A Balancing Act: Working and attending school at the same time.
The reality for millions of college students is that there aren’t enough hours in a day or dollars in the bank. Trying to solve both of these problems at once, however, can be almost impossible. Some find support from their parents. Others pay for school using loans, grants, and scholarships alone.
Then there are those among us (like me a few years back) who are forced to balance school life with work responsibilities.
Clock-punching backpack-schlepping student workers, take heart! There are ways to make your life slightly easier and keep your sanity somewhat intact while juggling work and school.
Managing your job A few things to keep in mind while you start the juggling act.
- Prioritize your classes. Are there classes necessary for your degree that are only offered once a term or, worse, once a year? Make sure to know what those classes are and build your schedule around them ahead of time.
- Don’t make commitments you can’t keep. If particular classes or particular shifts are inflexible, don’t expect that your instructors and managers will be forever stoked about your calling every week scrambling for coverage or asking for extensions.
- Find ways to work outside of a set schedule. Do you have opportunities to freelance? Are you willing to be on call to work certain shifts? Are you able to work from home? Fattening your bankroll without being tied to a set schedule or a particular location allows you to focus more on the demands of your school schedule.
Once you get everything going School schedule? Check. Work schedule? Check. Keeping it all running flawlessly… well, it’s a process.
- Don't be embarrassed. Being open about your responsibilities is much better than pretending they don't exist. Make sure you are communicating with your classmates, co-workers, instructors, and managers. Even and especially on days and weeks you think you may fall short, keeping everybody in the loop is not only the responsible thing to do, it also shows your superiors that you’re serious about your commitments.
- Be creative. Are you able to take your work with you to school and pare it down between classes? Can you do the same with your homework and slog through it when you have a few minutes during a break? Layering time commitments will leave you with more sanity-restoring free time later.
- Ask for help. Co-workers and instructors might be more willing to work with your schedule than you give them credit for. There's no harm in asking.
Crises You’ve planned. You’ve made tough decisions. You’ve communicated. And yet… something still manages to take you by surprise. What now?
- Communicate. There’s a reason why this has been repeated twice before: it’s really, really important. It's one thing to take time off without much notice... it's another to do it with no forewarning at all.
- Don't be too proud. It might be nice to say you didn’t use loans to go to college, but it's much better to get a lower-interest student loan than, say, paying for revolving credit on a credit card.
Some strategic planning goes a long way toward striking a healthy balance between your job and your education, and keeping these tips in mind will make maintaining that balance a little easier.
Photo by photosteve101 via cc
By Brandon Goldner Copyright 2014 brass Media, Inc.
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