Balancing School and a Job

There’s no doubt about it: money can feel tight when you’re a college student. You have textbooks to pay for, a grocery bill to foot—not to mention, it’d be nice to have a little extra cash here and there to fill in the gaps and go out and do something fun. It’s not a bad idea to start working a part-time job once you get to school, so you can pay for some of these extraneous college costs.

But how do you manage a job when you’re also going to class, writing papers, studying for tests, and trying to catch up on a few precious hours of sleep on a regular basis? You’re at college to learn and get your degree, so it’s important that you don’t slack off from your classes. While it’s nice to have some income flow to offset rent costs or have a little travel money on hand, balancing your job, school, and other responsibilities is essential. Read on for some tips to help make sure you’re staying afloat while working and living life as a college student.

1. Choose a job that works for you and your schedule

While the paycheck that comes with that position that requires 40+ hours a week on the clock sounds enticing, you have to be realistic. Working full time while attending school is going to be close to impossible—at least if you still want to have time to do your homework, study for finals, and actually participate in class.

Most colleges have work-study jobs that work well for full-time students. You’ll be able to work a job on campus that functions around your class hours and works well with your schedule. If you can, try your very best to get a job on campus, as it will save you time and money that you’d spend on travel costs commuting to and from work, and it’s likely that a campus job will advocate for you when it comes to getting enough time for your studies. If you can’t get a job in the campus bookstore or working as a teacher’s assistant for one of your professors, consider a job that’s close to your campus: a coffee shop or clothing store. If it’s in walking distance, then all the better. Flexible hours are key, so you’ll be able to change things up to make room for extra study time, and you won’t have to stress out about someone filling your role at work.

2. Don’t skip class for work

Just because you have to option to skip a class or two here and there at college doesn’t mean you should. If someone asks you to pick up a shift last minute or your manager calls and wants you take on some extra hours one week during class time, hold steady and try to put school first. Yes, one of the beautiful things about college is that you get to decide which classes you go to and which you can occasionally skip, but keep in mind that once you skip class for work once, it’ll be really tempting to make it a habit.

3. Ask for time off well in advance

Is winter break coming up? Finals week? A special event at school? If you know that your work hours are going to fall during a vacation or during an afternoon when you’d like to attend a tutoring session, make sure to ask off several weeks in advance. Most workplaces have a set requirement for how far in advance you need to ask off, but it never hurts to give yourself some additional cushion—especially if you have to find someone else to take your shift.

4. Self care is important too

Between work and school, it can seem like there’s not much time to do anything else—let alone something fun! Keep in mind that your sanity is important too. Make sure you make some time for yourself: exercise, spending time with friends, spending time with the Lord, or just hanging out on the couch resting and watching Netflix. If you’re overly stressed, it’s easy to start dropping the ball at work or in class, and it’s simply not healthy to pack your schedule that full. Make sure you make time to rest and relax in the midst of all the hubbub.