Student News

Balancing School and the Part-Time Job

Kathryn Knight Randolph

January 29, 2019

Balancing School and the Part-Time Job
Four tips to help you have it all.
Whether you’re in college or approaching your college career, you have likely already given thought, outlined and agonized over how to pay for college. Sometimes, you can depend on scholarships as well as financial aid, but students typically need more to bridge the gap between college costs and what they realistically have to pay for college. That’s where a part-time job comes in handy. It can be used to cover a variety of expenses – tuition, fees, textbooks and weekend fun. While it’s a great benefit to your financial situation, it also comes with huge responsibility. But with the right prioritization and strategy, you can make it all work to your advantage.
Establish Priorities Before you begin your part-time job, take some time to write down your priorities: classes, homework, job and extracurriculars. Realistically walk through how much time you’d have to spend on each of these. If it helps, write everything out on a calendar to get a visual picture of how much time you can dedicate to a job without compromising the biggest priority in your life. Allow yourself some room for relaxation – exercise, hanging out with friends, Netflix. If you push yourself too hard, there is risk of burnout; and something in your life will be impacted negatively.
Set Reasonable Expectations at Work During the job interview process, be vocal about the fact that you’re a student and require a schedule that aligns with your lifestyle. Oftentimes, retail and food industry jobs allow for a great deal of flexibility. Ask your boss if you can set a work schedule on a week-by-week basis as well as if you are able to scale back hours or even take a break from work when it’s finals week. Chances are your boss will exercise a great deal of understanding, especially if he or she is known for providing jobs to students. However, it’s important not to abuse your boss or supervisor’s leniency for student schedules. When you’re at work, be present at work.
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Make a Space for Yourself While carving out some “me time” in your schedule is paramount to balancing school and work, it’s also important to create a physical space for you to keep everything organized and study. The less cluttered your physical space, the more productive and motivated you’ll be to tackle your busy schedule. If you don’t have a desk, get one. Keep everything on it neat and clean, and include some photos, quotes or keepsakes that inspire you. Keep your dorm room or apartment tidy as well. Charge your phone and laptop every night. Being prepared for the next day and finding what you want when you need it can improve how well you balance your commitments. Get Support Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit if you’re struggling at times. Your supervisors and your professors are – or at least they should be – advocates for your success. They want you to perform well in every role you take on. Be open and honest. If you need help academically, reach out to your professor, teaching aides or tutors. There are a variety of resources available to you on campus to not only help you learn content but balance as well. And if work is too much, communicate that to your boss. There may be ways to lighten your schedule – just for a few weeks. It may be difficult – at first – to balance both work and school. However, working while you’re in school can minimize the financial strain of paying for school. Furthermore, it will enable you to develop your time management and prioritization skills, which will come in handy after graduation as you navigate work, life and everything that comes in between.
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