College is expensive, and seems to only get more and more expensive by the semester. Often, students have to work to buy food or help with the growing college loan. Work requires extra time and responsibility though, so it’s important to know how to balance work and school so your grades don’t slip—especially if you have a grade-dependent scholarship. Even if you don’t necessarily need to work, don’t automatically count it out. It is possible to work both at the office and at school and excel in each environment.
Balance Your Schedules
As students, we’re constantly being told to balance work and play…or in this case, school work and work-work. Unlike elementary school where your only homework was to learn how to share better; this is a highly prized skill that only gets more necessary with age. Once you have all your classes selected, take time deciding what kind of work schedule you can manage. Just because you have a two hour break between classes doesn’t mean you have to go to work. Take care of your homework after class so you don’t have to worry about it later, or take the time to get some extra studying in for a test in your next class. Going to work when you have a larger time availability will decrease stress and allow you to solely focus on school during your class schedule.
Be Able to Say No
Sometimes picking up the slack for a colleague who called in sick or has some function to attend is great; who doesn’t love making more money? But there are days when you have homework coming out of your ears, you already worked a long shift or you have lots of studying to do. Don’t let guilt take you over. It is not your responsibility to bend over backwards for your employer; you’ll end up becoming the go-to shift-coverer. If you really can’t handle the extra shift, a simple “Sorry, I can’t” is all you have to say. You don’t have to give an explanation or even listen to them go on and on about how no one else can cover. It might be hard—believe me, I’m one of those people who could never say no, but I finally grew a backbone—but school work needs to come first if you want to keep your grades high.
Balancing school and work isn’t just a five day commitment. You don’t necessarily have to sacrifice your whole weekend, but you should be willing to spend some time at school or work or both. If you can’t work as much during the week due to school constrictions, the weekend is an excellent opportunity to make some extra cash. It’s not like you have to work both days, but even sacrificing a Saturday afternoon to work can prove beneficial to your bank account. On the other hand, if you have a lighter schedule and lots of work time during the week, dedicate some of your weekend to catching up on school work and studying. As said before, life’s a balancing act and fitting it all into the weekdays can get tricky.
Get Some Extra Help
Find yourself a study buddy or talk to your professors about your situation. Most of the time, they are very understanding and really want to help you succeed. But don’t go asking for extensions on every project and paper—just because they like you and understand you need to work, doesn’t mean they’ll always be willing to give you more time. Form study groups with your friends if work has taken away from you attending special lectures your professor sets up or hitting the library for outside information. Working together will help you all get better grades and get your work done faster. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your employer about your needs. As long as you don’t have a crazy boss, they should handle you occasionally needing some time off to study for a particularly hard midterm. It never hurts to ask.
Maintaining your grades and your job won’t always be easy, but it can be done. Don’t get discouraged and never be afraid to reach out for help. Most importantly, don’t wear yourself out in the process. Only take on what you can handle and do your best.
I’m reading Practical Research: Planning and Design