Working part-time while in school is an excellent way to offset some of your tuition, textbook and housing costs.
However, it can be challenging to juggle a job on top of an already-busy student schedule.
Here are some suggestions for how to balance a job along with your studies.
1. Stay organized
Planning out your schedule is the most important step to ensuring that you stay on top of your schoolwork and your job.
Use a calendar that’s connected to your email or one that you can download to your computer – or opt for a paper agenda. Whatever you choose, use your planner to schedule in class times and deadlines, shifts at work, time for studying, errands and exercise, social activities and any other commitments you have.
Seeing your schedule laid out like this will help you to manage your time well and plan in advance to make sure you don’t let anything fall off your radar.
2. Be proactive about deadlines
Try setting “fake” due dates for yourself for assignments and exams a couple of days ahead of the real deadlines and aim to have your essay/report/studying completed by the earlier date.
Don’t let the lure of short-term gain distract you from the need to support your long-term plans.
Following this method, you’ll always have a buffer period if you fall behind or you can use that time to review your notes again or proof-read your assignment one last time.
You should also start working on projects as soon as you get them – not only will it help you to get a good sense of how much time you need to set aside to complete the assignment, it will also eliminate the anxiety that comes with a looming deadline for something you haven’t started yet.
3. Be honest with your employer
Make it clear that your job is important to you but that your studies ultimately have to come first.
Your boss should already expect this and he or she will probably appreciate your dedication to your education.
Of course you’ll still need to make sure you’re still making your job a priority, however you can make things a little bit easier on yourself by arranging your working schedule around exams or assignments well in advance. You should also be upfront with your employer about how many hours you are able to work each week without jeopardizing your schoolwork.
Offer to work a little extra during peak times – employers will be more respectful of your schedule if you are respectful of theirs.
4. Treat your job like you treat school
Take your job seriously. Even though it’s secondary to your education, you still need to give it your best effort.
Work hard to learn the job and perform well. Work will be less stressful, your employer will be more willing to give you a good reference when all is said and done and you’ll be able to take pride in your work.
5. Treat your schoolwork like you treat your job
One of the hardest things about balancing course work as a student is time-management because there’s no one watching over to make sure you don’t procrastinate.
Proper scheduling is key to maintaining work-life-school balance.
When you’re studying, act like you’re at work: every minute counts so make sure you’re using your time wisely. You have to become your own boss – you should hold yourself to the same high standards an actual employer would.
6. But don’t let yourself burn out
Be honest with yourself about what you can realistically handle. Not everyone can manage working while in school and taking on too much could mean you end up neglecting your studies.
To prevent this from happening, make sure you give yourself a break every now and again – it’s important for your physical, emotional and mental health. It’s expected that you’ll have to forego some social activities but that doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of all kinds of fun.
Take a night off occasionally to see friends and maintain relationships with the people you care about. And schedule in some personal time every once in a while too, to give yourself a chance to catch your breath, check in with yourself and make sure your stress levels are manageable.
As hard as it might be at times, there are many advantages to working while you’re in school. Once you’ve found a good work/student life balance, you can focus on making the most of your extra income!