5 Tips for Balancing College Life and A Job

By Aaron Swartz on December 11, 2022

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College isn’t cheap, and that’s just part of the reality of higher education in the U.S. Unless you’re going to community college or a public institution your extra years of education are going to cost you a pretty penny. That alone is one of the many reasons a lot of college students spend their free time working a job (or jobs) on top of their course load. There are a lot of other benefits to working while you’re in school, things like bolstering your resume and working on your networking, but it can be difficult to balance between being a student and being an employee. To help you thrive both in the classroom and your workplace, here are our top five tips for juggling school and a job.

via Pixabay

1. Scheduling is Everything

It really can’t be stressed enough, scheduling and planning are the best skills you can have if you’re trying to balance college and a career at the same time. When you take on a job in addition to your courses you’re going to have a lot more you need to keep track of. There are class meetings, shifts at work, homework assignments, overarching projects, any take-home work from your job, social events, and extracurriculars… It’s a lot! Scheduling your time is an important step to making all of that more manageable. Plan out your days so you know when you’ll be doing each of your assignments, when you need to go to work or class, as well as what’s coming in the future you need to be aware of. Planning your time can make a huge difference in balancing your workload, so make sure you prep yourself and are ready for whatever you’ve got coming.

2. Know How You Work

Everyone works differently, and there can be a lot of power in knowing how best you work — and how you don’t. For example, some people really thrive on early morning schedules. They have great energy early in the day and may prefer to schedule early classes or shifts. For some people, that’s the exact opposite of what they need. They may find themselves doing their best work once the sun goes down, and favor a schedule that lets them stay up later. Everyone is different, so figure out what works for you! If you’re an early riser or a night owl, plan your schedule around that. If you’re a great organizer then plan out your projects in advance so you’re ready, or if you’re an improviser make sure you have enough time to get all your work done. Play to your strengths and you can’t go wrong.

3. Communicate with People

One of the great things college teaches you is that — most of the time anyway — people are really willing to make allowances for you if you’re willing to put in effort on your end. To that point, communicate with your bosses and your professors about what your life is looking like. Let them know you’re a student and an employee and have a lot on your plate. If they know ahead of time then you can ask them for an extra day to submit an assignment or to call out for a shift at work if the going gets tough and there’s a lot going on for you. So long as you let people know ahead of time and communicate effectively about what’s going on, most people will be more than happy to help you balance your schedule, so make sure you share with them.

4. Get Help from Friends

Everyone needs a support network, including you. Your friends can be a great way to take some of the pressure off of you when trying to juggle your school and your job. Make friends with people in your classes or ask for notes if you need some help in a class. Your friends can also be really great for finding time and space to NOT do something related to working for once if you have a tendency to overwork yourself. Friends are there to help you, so let them do exactly that.

5. Make Time for Self-Care

A follow-up on the latter half of the last point, it can be easy to overwork yourself when you’re trying to hold down a job and a college education at the same time. There’s a genuine possibility you’ll push yourself too hard and burn out, and when that happens you’ll feel horrible and won’t be able to do anything as well as you want. The best way to combat that exhaustion is very simple: take care of yourself before it happens. When planning your time, don’t just plan when you’re working: make space for yourself to rest too. Practice self-care in whatever ways make you comfortable, whether that’s bubble baths and candles, some good food, or your comfort TV show. As long as you’re taking care of yourself, that’s what really matters.

College is incredibly rewarding and a lot of work, and so is a job if you’ve found the right one. Taken together they can put you under a lot of strain if you’re not careful, and you might end up burning yourself out. However, with these tips, you should have a better idea of how to juggle college and a career without having to give up either.

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