There are numerous reasons to work part-time as a student and at the same time further your education.
Whatever the reason may be, balancing school and a part-time job as a student is difficult, and all pros and cons should be considered before making this decision. This article, however, will provide you with tips for balancing school and work in a way that is not overwhelming and, dare I say, enjoyable.
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Why work part-time as a student?
You may choose to work part-time while in school for a variety of reasons. The following are some reasons why you might consider working while studying:
- You require funds to support yourself or others.
- You require funds for non-essential personal expenses.
- You’re part of a tuition-reduction program.
- You want to expand your skill set in order to improve your college applications.
- You want to expand your skill set in preparation for a job after college.
- You want to try out different fields before committing to an academic or professional path.
- You want to establish network connections.
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How to do it
The tips below can help you balance school demands while working in a way that feels manageable and not overwhelming.
- Establish clear limits for the number of hours you can work.
Before you take on a part-time job, know how many hours you can work, when you can work, and if you have any recurring weekly or monthly conflicts. When communicating with a potential employer, be clear about your availability from the start.
- Be clear in your communication with your boss.
It is critical to maintain clear and open communication with your boss in order to balance work and school. Speak up when something isn’t working, ask questions when you’re unsure of what’s expected of you, and always be honest.
- Make a weekly planning commitment.
I recommend balancing your school and work schedules on a weekly basis, ideally on Sundays. While you should plan your work schedule a month ahead of time, your school schedule will change depending on your after-school activities.
What tests do you have that week (and thus how much do you need to study) and the amount of homework do you have?
Sit down once a week on Sundays and plan out your week ahead on paper. Consider your school, work, after-school activities, appointments, and homework schedules.
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- Plan your work schedule a month ahead of time.
Inquire with your boss about scheduling your work hours one month in advance. Employers who hire students are accustomed to doing so, so asking is not unusual. Creating your work schedule a month in advance can help you plan out your weeks, which is essential for maintaining a healthy balance.
- Arrange your work around school, not the other way around.
Before you agree to your monthly work hours, or before you agree to cover someone’s shift as a favor, make sure you’re not sacrificing time for school. If you follow my weekly planning advice, you should know exactly what time you’ve scheduled for school. Putting in extra hours may seem like a good idea at the time, but it’s not worth it if you’ll be stressed later.
- Reduce your workload during exam season.
Balancing school and a part-time job is not a one-time task; you must adjust your work schedule as your school life enters busy seasons. Reduce your workload to avoid feeling overwhelmed. During midterm and final exams, work hours are restricted. Just make sure to notify your boss ahead of time.
- Reduce other activities.
If you commit to a part-time job while in school, you may be unable to participate in other after-school activities such as sports and student groups. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to think about when putting together your college application or professional resume. There is only so much time in the day, and you must remember that you cannot do everything.
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- Avoid procrastination and get started right away.
Working students have less free time than non-working students. This means that if you work part-time, you can’t slack off on assignments. Procrastination will only lead to stress, which will have an impact on both your grades and your job. The solution is to begin assignments far earlier than you want to, including test preparation.
- Locate a study area near your workplace.
Find an off-site study space close to your workplace. This could be a library, coffee shop, bookstore, or similar establishment. I’m including this as a tip for balancing school and a part-time job because there may be days when it just makes sense – time-wise – to finish your homework first. or after work, close to work. It’s a good idea to have an alternate study location in your back pocket, whether due to traffic, your ride situation, or any other factor.
- Plan ahead of time whenever possible.
Tip 9 is to avoid procrastination, but the true balancing magic happens when you can plan ahead of time. Sure, there will be days when you can barely keep up with the bare necessities, but there will also be days when you aren’t scheduled to work and your homework load is light: these are the days you should be working ahead.
For example, if your teacher has only assigned chapter 5 of the novel you’re reading, read the next chapter as well (because you know you’ll have to). Or Even if your teacher hasn’t yet informed you of the date of your vocab quiz, you can begin studying now because you know it will occur at some point.
- Begin slowly, evaluate, and then add more hours if necessary.
I understand the temptation to “go all in” and work as many hours as you can if you’re excited about earning money with a part-time job, especially if it’s your first job. Yes, more money. But it also means more stress and juggling your time.
I recommend that you begin with a minimum number of work hours – probably less than you believe is reasonable – and then assess how well (or poorly) you are able to balance school and work after about a month.
- Make wise financial decisions.
If you spend every dollar you earn, you’ll have to work even harder to replenish your bank account. However, if you are conscious of your spending and save wisely (many financial experts, including this one, believe that students should save at least 20% of their paychecks), you will be able to keep your work hours reasonable.
- Use active recall to study efficiently
When you’re juggling school and a part-time job, you have to be extremely efficient in your study habits. With so little free time, you won’t be able to study for as long, but you will be able to study better. How? employ active recall techniques or passive study techniques. Active recall is undoubtedly more unpleasant, but that is because it works. And because it works, you can study for a shorter period of time. Passive study methods, on the other hand, may feel more comfortable in the moment, but they don’t work and waste valuable time.
- Select a job that is easy to get to and is not impacted by traffic.
This may seem obvious, but the easier it is to get to your job, the easier it will be to balance. Consider how congested the roads are during peak commuting hours. A job may pay well, but if you have to commute 45 minutes each way, that’s 90 minutes you could be spending doing something more valuable.
- Select a job that allows for flexibility.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but having a flexible job and boss will make it easier to balance school and work. A slightly higher-paying job at the same company where your friend works may sound appealing, but if the manager refuses to accommodate your school schedule or make accommodations for your hockey playoff season, you might be better off taking the lower-paying job scooping ice cream.
As stated above, getting a part-time job while in school has many benefits other than a paycheck, some of these benefits are developing skills, making connections, and fleshing out your resume and applications.
However, even all of the world’s time management strategies may not be enough to help you balance a job that is too demanding. If you’re constantly stressed out, missing assignments, and arriving late to school or work, you may need to take a break from your job until things calm down. This is not a failure; rather, it is called self-awareness.
I strongly believe that if you follow these tips, you can balance your school and work life with no stress.