How to: Balance Work and School

Work/school/life balance might be the theme of my blog for the semester, bear with me, but someone mentioned that when they first went to college, it would have been good to know how to work in college while still keeping up with academics. Since I’ve been working and taking classes for several years now, I assumed (maybe correctly? Who even knows at this point?) that I would be a good person to offer advice, so keep reading for my best tips to help balance work and school.

  1. Understand that not everyone will understand. Some people are privileged enough that they only have to focus on college, and their bills are still somehow magically paid. Those people don’t understand why you’re tired, why you’re turning on the overhead lights at 7:00 am to get ready for work, or why you can’t always go out for drinks. Understand that these people are on a different path in life than you, and becoming frustrated that their situation is “easier” than yours is not going to be productive, effective, or worth your time.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take time away. Missing a shift or class is usually not going to be the end of the world, so if you aren’t able to make it to your job one day because you have to study, or if you have to hit snooze on a lecture to give yourself some sleep, no one will think less of you. If your mind or your body is telling you to take some time off, do your best to arrange for it.
  3. Block off study time. Your work is scheduled ahead of time, and your classes are too, so why not block off study time throughout the week? For example, I have a 2.5-hour gap between my Tuesday/Thursday classes where I don’t have work scheduled. Guess where I spend that time? The library. It’s on campus so I’m not tempted to go back to my apartment and miss my second class of the day and I’m making productive use of my time.
  4. Wake up 30 minutes earlier. Training yourself to wake up 30 minutes earlier gives you extra time to plan out your day, catch up on missed homework, or actually eat breakfast before you leave home. I like to spend some of the very beginning of my day planning out my to-do list, my goals, and finishing up anything I didn’t quite get to the day before.

It hasn’t always been a necessity for so many students to have to work part-time or even full-time to get through school with the bills paid, but it’s a situation that is not only doable but will help make you a more well-rounded person who is able to handle whatever the world is able to throw at you.

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