As a busy college student wondering how to manage work and school while dealing with 14 credit hours or more, how should you manage your time effectively to ensure that you can balance your workload with your personal happiness?
To help you better understand the challenges associated with managing your time as you work a busy job coupled with an intensive academic schedule, read on to learn more about 11 unique ways to achieve the right balance.
You’ll learn more about what it takes when it comes to working full time and going to school – and how those who came before you made it in one piece.
1. Determine the Exact Number of Hours You Need
The exact number of hours you’ll need from your job (or jobs) depends on two factors: How many credit hours you have opted for on your academic schedule and how much money you need to cover your expenses. Your college or university likely offers financial aid based on loans, grants, and work-study. The United States federal government also offers the Pell Grant.
You should take advantage of these financial aid resources before you dive into a job. For example, you may find that you only need $300 per week to cover the costs of running your car and purchasing food, with your housing and studies already paid in full by a loan program or grants. In that case, you’ll likely need to allocate some time on the weekends as well if you’re planning to work a minimum wage job.
2. Find Opportunities Related to Your Long-Term Career Goal
You may not always have luck in finding a job opportunity that relates to your long-term career aspirations. For instance, if you want to ultimately pursue a career in acting, working at a fast food restaurant won’t provide you with any marketable experience. Working the box office just might, however.
You can find these types of roles by scouring job listings and your own campus’s job network. Many schools will post internal listings specifically for students that the public many not access. You should take full advantage of these resources to help you find work that relates to your final goal.
3. Ensure You Sleep, Eat, and Exercise
One of the most difficult lessons that many students learn during their studies and employment revolves around the various deficits that can build up while working and going to school full time. These deficits include sleep deprivation, dietary changes, and lack of exercise.
Be clear about this: You cannot afford to take health risks for the sake of earning a little extra cash. If you’re unable to balance your biological needs with those of your financial situation, you may want to seek out additional financial aid from your school’s finance department. Never forgo rest, food, and exercise for the sake of your studies and work.
4. Remember to Focus on Yourself
You likely haven’t ever had to deal with the amount of stress that you may now feel because of trying to balance school and work. Remember to take care of yourself during this long process, including getting plenty of fresh air, exercise, and social activity.
Remember that you need to seek out time to spend with friends and family during this time so that you don’t begin to feel overwhelmed and demotivated. Your life has intrinsic value that you should maintain to the best of your ability. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, why not call a friend or go for a swim?
5. Never Play Games with Your Mental Health
A lot is at stake when you play games with your mental health. If, in the process of maintain the balance between school and work, you begin to feel suicidal or depressed, you absolutely must – without hesitation – seek out psychological help.
Many schools offer on-campus counseling and therapy to help you cope with the immense stresses that come from working and going to school full time. If you begin to feel suicidal or know someone who has expressed an imminent suicidal thought, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. That call may just save a life.
6. Seek Out Flexible Employment If Possible
As the economy develops, more and more companies have sought to move some of their in-office positions to telecommute roles. You may want to seek out these types of positions to better structure your time and maintain your busy schedule.
An understanding manager can provide a great resource for you by allowing you to work the hours you need and can realistically achieve while balancing all the other factors of your life, including schoolwork, homework, and your own emotional and physical needs. By working from home or on a flexible shift, you can have the best of both worlds of earning income while keeping your schedule in harmony.
7. Build a Strong Support System to Help You When the Going Gets Tough
A strong support system can mean the difference between you becoming burned out and achieving your goals. You can build your support system from many different “parts,” including friends, family, and trusted advisors from your school. Each of these support elements can play a different role, with your family providing love and attention, friends can provide social interaction and fun, and school advisors can offer advice on dealing with tough situations on campus.
Additionally, you may want to supplement your support network with mental health professionals who can offer counseling sessions when you need them to clear your mind and get back on the right track after suffering from an emotional or work-related situation.
8. Learn How to Manage Your Time Effectively
Managing your time effectively can provide you with more hours in the day to spend doing the things you love or need to do, including staying healthy and spending time with friends. You should consider using a project management tool like Trello to manage your busy schedule in conjunction with a calendar app to ensure that you always have a clear understanding of what needs to get done in what order.
By learning how to manage your time effectively, you’ll be able to do more in an hour than the average person, thereby freeing up more of your time for personal matters. It’s a win-win situation!
9. Keep Your Manager Aware of Your Busy Schedule
One of the first things you should consider doing when starting a new job as a busy college student is to make your manager aware of your busy schedule. Once he or she understand the time pressures you are under, you’ll be able to determine what an optimal work schedule looks like for both of you.
It’s critical that you bring this matter to your manager’s attention as soon as possible so that they can help you to determine the right work plan for your unique situation. They can also help you to set expectations around your work in a way that mutually benefits both your employer and your own personal life.
10. Learn How to Focus
The difference between those that fail and those that succeed in the type of environment you’re dealing with is focus. By learning how to focus on one task for an extended period, you can be more efficient with your limited resources and complete complicated processes faster.
For instance, when you’re doing your homework, you should set aside a block of time and focus exclusively on it. Turn off your video game consoles, unplug yourself from social media, and eliminate all possible distractions. You need to get that homework done, and you need it done as soon as possible so that you can return more personal time to yourself.
The same rule applies to lectures, exams, major projects, and work-related tasks. By staying focused at any given time on the task at hand, you’ll be able to have more personal time to yourself and ultimately live a happier college existence.
11. Seek Out Sanctuaries of Peace and Quiet
With all the effort and energy you’re going to expend, you’re going to want to seek out peace and solitude wherever you can find it. The best places to find quiet areas where you can relax and focus include your school’s library (assuming that the no-sound rules are strictly enforced), your bedroom, and parks. Each of these locations can offer a space for you to focus on schoolwork and complete your homework.
Other Ideas to Consider
In the process of maintaining balance between work and school, you should consider taking advantage of some of these ideas as well:
- Take fewer credit hours in a semester to ensure that you have adequate time to rest.
- Avoid high-stress jobs that further tax your limited mental resources.
- Live at home to save money on housing and to have the comfort and familiarity of family around.
Good luck in your quest to achieve balance between work and school!