Juggling college courses and work responsibilities are tough for students, but it can be done. Keeping to a schedule, sticking to a budget, easing into tasks, and making time for your personal life will help you maintain balance and avoid burnout.
Make and Keep Your Schedule
As a working student, know that you’re not alone in your situation. The U.S. Department of Education reports that more than 78 percent of undergraduate students work, and about a quarter of students work full-time. Time management is one of the most critical skills that you’ll need as a working college student. Whether you’re working a few hours a week or taking on a full-time, 40-hour-per-week job, managing your time is a necessity for success.
Start by outlining your class schedule and expected workload outside of class time. From there, look for the open times that you can work on. When you receive your course syllabi, you can add due dates, exams, and other important dates to your schedule. This helps you visualize potential weeks that could cause conflicts in advance.
Before you accept a job, make sure that the supervisor over the position will offer some flexibility for your schedule. If you won’t have any wiggle room, such as during midterms and final exams, it may not be a good fit for you while you’re in school. Don’t forget that you’re a student first. It doesn’t make sense to spend thousands on tuition, housing, books, and other living expenses, only to devote more of your time and attention to your job.
For many new college students, this period of their lives marks the first time they’ve been fully responsible for their own expenses. Creating a budget might not be an easy task, especially if you’ve never had to worry about money in the past. However, as a working student, creating and sticking to your budget is crucial.
Get started on your budget by listing obligatory expenses, such as housing, tuition, books, utilities, and food. From there, you can figure out how much you have leftover for your phone bill, entertainment, and other non-critical expenses. The last thing you want to do is overspend and spread yourself too thin. Stick to the essentials, so you don’t have to work longer hours to pay your credit card bill.
Ease into Your Tasks
As you get started with school and a new job, take things slowly. It’s better to talk to your supervisor about increasing work hours than it is to request a cutback in your responsibilities. You know yourself, so be honest about what you can handle; don’t go crazy with extracurricular activities, a long list of classes, and a full-time job.
Make Time for Yourself
When you’re running from work to class and back to work, you’ll burn out quickly. Everyone needs time for themselves, whether to catch up with friends or just grab a quick power nap. Don’t overschedule yourself to the point where you don’t have any free time. You won’t have much fun during the time of your life that should be exciting and memorable.
When you find the right balancing act, you can achieve success as a working student.