Job Advice

6 Tips for Balancing School and Work

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Lindsay Barnhart
March 28, 2017

As a working student, you’re not alone. According to this Georgetown University study, more than 70% of college students—14 million, in fact—work while going to school. Balancing classes, projects, term papers, and finals while holding down a job is no easy task. But don’t despair, you’re gaining valuable job experience companies love to see. Plus once you graduate, employers will be impressed by your dedication and new degree. However, effectively managing your workload is critical to success and maintaining good balance in your life. So we’ve got six easy tips to help you stay on track.

  1. Set realistic work and study goals: Look at your class load, estimate how much time you need to study and do homework, then determine how many hours you can feasibly work. Temporary work or jobs with flexible schedules may fit great into your schedule. But remember—be reasonable and don’t overcommit.
  2. Get plenty of rest: This may sound contradictory to your goal, but getting enough sleep matters. Sleep deprivation is linked to increased rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, poor concentration, and memory loss. A good night’s rest—7 to 8 hours—promotes healthy brain function and, according to the National Institute for Health, it’s also been linked to better academic performance.
  3. Take online classes: If available, online courses offer more flexibility within your schedule. Many lectures are pre-recorded and allow you to listen when and where you please making school fit more easily around work commitments. However, completing online coursework may require more diligence and responsibility on your part.
  4. Openly communicate with your boss: Most employers value an education and will be pleased to know you’re advancing your knowledge and skills. Before you get knee-deep in finals, let your manager know. See if your work schedule can be lightened for a week or two leading up to testing. Alternately, when your class load is slow, consider asking your manager for more hours to earn extra cash.
  5. Don’t be afraid to say “no”: As a working student, your time is limited. It’s important to stay focused on your goals without allowing others to derail you. If you need to study in the evening after work, be willing to protect that time when friends want you to go out. Be prepared to prioritize yourself and your education when others try to put demands on your time.
  6. Make time for fun: Even though it’s important to protect time for work and focusing on school, down time is a must. To avoid burnout and manage stress, schedule moments for relaxation or hanging out with friends whenever you can. Quick chats over coffee, going to the movies, or a whole night off to socialize are great ways to recharge your spirit and motivate you to stay on track with your goals.

The truth is working while going to school demands a lot of hard work and dedication. But the good news is this part of your life is temporary—just a few short years in the grand scheme. Don’t stop–it may be tough now but all that hard work will pay off soon.