Are you considering working your way through university? While college years have gained a reputation for being heavy with parties and relatively lean on “real life,” today’s students find the opposite is true. Instead of taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, people interested in attending college are increasingly more likely to get a job to support their studies and living expenses. This is a good choice for their long-term financial stability, but how feasible is working when studying at university?
This blog will look at some of the ways you can balance work and student life at the same time.
How many students are actually working?
Before we dive into tips to keep your life as balanced as possible while working and studying, it’s essential to understand the reality that many students around the country are currently facing. According to the US Department of Education, in 2017, nearly 50% of full-time students pursuing undergraduate degrees and more than 80% of part-time students were working while enrolled. That represents a steady increase in numbers which had fallen over the past decade, illustrating that today’s students are increasingly weighing the pros and cons of working while studying and are opting to try to manage both.
Being employed while being enrolled can be challenging, but the benefit is that students don’t have to rely on loans to graduate. This is important as higher education costs continue to grow with little end in sight. Students from all walks of life seek degrees to better their financial situations and pursue their dream careers, so here are some of the ways you can balance work and school life.
- Create a schedule
Most readers have likely heard about the dangers of procrastination and the importance of time management, but this is far more than a platitude for today’s college students. When you are working through school, your free time is dramatically limited, and essential tasks such as studying for exams and completing coursework can quickly fall by the wayside. It is imperative to create a schedule and stick to it.
What time do you have to be at work, and how long do you spend in class? What are realistic estimates for your free hours? If you get out of work at 3 pm and have a class at 4 pm, for example, it’s unrealistic to note that you have one free hour (from 3 pm to 4 pm) to study as you’ll likely be traveling for much of that time. This could be a good fit for a snack or dinner break, especially if you think ahead and pack something you can eat while on the go.
Write your schedule down and get a physical or digital planner to hold yourself accountable. You should portion out time to study and personal time to relax and must live by the schedule for as long as it is practical.
- Decide needs vs. wants
While most college students work to pay for their school and associated costs, it can be tempting to work more than necessary to pay for wants rather than needs. While this is entirely acceptable if you have the extra time to dedicate to work, it becomes trickier when students attempt to take more hours from their already-limited study time to work to obtain non-essentials. When paying your way through university, you must quickly learn to identify the difference between wants and needs.
Focus on your studies and schedule work as a second thought as much as possible. Take stock of your classes and coursework before committing to more work hours. Be honest with yourself about how the extra work will impact you. You are in university to learn, so make sure you leave yourself as much time as possible to study.
- Make every second count
Another way to maximize your free time is to make every moment count. When you create your schedule, do not dismiss the possibility of being productive on breaks. Maybe you have a 45-minute break between classes, for example, and you know that you will spend 15 minutes traveling across campus and stopping to get something to eat. That leaves you with 30 minutes to use for studying or completing other coursework.
Look through your daily schedule for periods that can be used to give yourself a bit more study time.
- Make time for yourself
With the above in mind, it is also essential to take some time just to enjoy life while working through university. That is true because the rest of your time must be rigidly structured. Take some time to do whatever sounds good whenever you can without a set plan in mind. Maybe you decide to go to a party with your friends or stay in and binge watch your favorite TV show. Whatever activity catches your attention, allow yourself to relax and enjoy your time without worrying about work or schoolwork.
If you do not give yourself time to relax, you could find yourself burnt out and struggling to function. This can lead to severe consequences in your career and university work, so take preemptive steps to avoid it happening. You might even consider eschewing a traditional student experience in exchange for something like an Online Master’s in Data Science. Online courses make it easier to squeeze time from your day and offer more free time than balancing traditional classes and outside work. Make sure you pick a trusted educational institute such as Worcester Polytechnic Institute to ensure your time is well spent.
Are you ready to start your college journey? Working while studying might seem intimidating, but if you plan your time out and make wise choices about portioning out free time, study time, and work time, you can absolutely study while working. Keep our tips in mind and take it one step at a time!