How to Balance Work and Study at University
Many university students have part-time jobs to supplement their finances, but it is not as easy as it looks. Working gives you some wiggle room in your finances, offers experience, and looks good on your CV.
However, you have to find the right balance between the job and academics. Otherwise, your grades will suffer. Besides, a good balance ensures that a person doesn’t become overworked or under too much pressure. Here are some tips for creating that balance.
Confirm that You Need the Job
For most students, the answer is an automatic yes. College is expensive, and a collegian’s life involves extra expenses that maintenance loans cannot cover. However, that’s not the case for everyone. If you are one of the more fortunate students, you won’t need a part-time job since it will be an extra hassle on top of an already demanding course.
To figure out whether you need to work, create a monthly budget. Then determine the amount of money you need every month. Establish how much you require to supplement your budget from a part-time job to sustain yourself.
Find the Right Job
The job you pick heavily dictates whether you can create a healthy balance with your academic life. Find a job that requires about 15 hours a week at best. It’s also better to find something flexible so that you can move shifts to fit into your schedule.
The university job board is an excellent place to start for this job hunt. There, you can find jobs that won’t even require you to leave the campus, such as in shops, libraries, and the student union bar. The advantage of working for the university is that they know how demanding a student’s schedule can be. So they will willingly provide the flexibility you need. Universities also guarantee fair wages and a safe working environment.
The downside to campus jobs is that there is a lot of competition for them. The positions are filled relatively quickly, so you need to act fast. The alternative is to find a part-time job off-campus, such as at a bar, retail store, or restaurant. Bars and shops often need people to work on the weekend and evenings, especially during the holidays. Such kinds of jobs give you time for your academics.
Plan Your Time
A part-time job is good for you if it fits into your weekly schedule of academic lectures, study time, social activities, and course deadlines. A schedule will tell you whether you are overburdening yourself and help you keep track of your workload.
Study time is crucial, and it should be separated from your free time. If you realize that you work more hours than you study, you can request a shift drop. Personal time is also vital since it helps you unwind. Remember to do something fun, such as planning a movie, hanging out with friends, or just sleeping.
During the exam period, you need to adjust your schedule to focus more on your studies. It might mean having to move some shifts around and even sometimes sacrificing some of your personal time. The same applies to busy periods at your job, such as the holidays. Your manager might need you to work some extra hours during this time, and your schedule can help you plan where you will get the extra hours.
As a student, stress is almost inevitable, and working part-time while still in school can make things worse. The sources of stress might include:
- Test anxiety and academic demands
- Postgraduate plans
- The job
The good news is there are ways to prevent and even cope with stress, and here are some of them.
Attend to One Thing at a Time
When you have a lot of things to do, the best approach is to focus on one at a time and work your way down the list. Focus on a single task to its entirety and then jump to the next. This method can apply to your schoolwork as well as your job.
Eat Healthy and Exercise
The healthy you are, the more you can do. When you eat well, your body gets enough energy for the day. Eat a balanced breakfast in the morning to give you energy for the day. Then, find time to exercise at least three days a week. It can be simple, like taking walks, jogging, or hitting the gym for an hour. Working out helps eliminate stress because of the release of endorphins.
Have Some Fun
Find time for your interests and hobbies, and remember to maintain an active social life. Doing things you enjoy helps you unwind, which enables you to focus on your job and academics.
Take Deserved Breaks
Learn to rest in between your studies and even your shifts. Your brain functions best when you are well-rested. While creating your schedule, include rest times as they will help you recharge. The best form of rest is a nap. Little naps during the day can be helpful, especially when you have to work a late shift at your job.
It is also good to take some time off of work when you feel you need it. A good balance means understanding your body and when you are at your limits. Avoid wearing yourself thin as fatigue will negatively affect your studies.
Delaying your workload leads to the work piling up until the end. It is especially common for schoolwork during studying for exams and coursework. When you procrastinate, you add stress to your life on top of the daily workload.
Creating a timetable is easy but staying committed to it is what counts. Stay aware of your deadlines and always start early so that you can clear the workload in time. Learn to push through the feelings of laziness and complete your work. Procrastination is the reason many students have to seek help with academic tasks like college essay editing.
Some tips to avoid procrastination include:
- Set reasonable deadlines
- Complete the hard stuff first
- Reduce distractions
- Find an accountability partner
Explore Workplace Support
Talk to your employer and inform them about your academic goals during your tenure. Ask them about any available support options, such as employee training, job sharing, reduced hours, or study leaves.
It is also worth it to make friends with your workmates. They can help cover for you when you are too overwhelmed, but be prepared to return the favor.
Reading notes is not the same as receiving the information firsthand in class. Lecturers can help you understand your course better in a way that a book cannot. Furthermore, not going to classes means that you are not putting your tuition money to good use.
Attending lectures is better than having to play catchup later on. Then, understand that lecturers can note your attendance in their classes, and they can use it to determine how critical they are when marking your papers. Thus, missing classes might get you on their bad side.
The Bottom Line
Purpose is a powerful motivator, and you should make the most of it. Have clear goals that you need to achieve and remind yourself how working part-time in college fits those goals. Balancing work and your education will not always be easy. Sometimes you will feel overwhelmed, but remember, other people have gone through that too and succeeded. So you can do it too.