Balancing Work and School

balancing work and school

In my first year as a college student, I experienced difficulties with adjusting to my new and complex work and school schedule. College is a new chapter in one’s life, it brings more opportunities and challenges that can be exciting and stressful. Adding a job on top of that can be a heavy task to take on, but can teach a lot about balancing a schedule. I’ve had a part-time job since I was 15 and always handled it well with high school. However, once I became a full-time college student it became somewhat of a burden. The combination of work and school was beginning to become more of a chore and less of a joy. I struggled to find the light in this situation, but regardless had to get myself out and quickly find a balance and plan for the better. It is possible to be happy with a job as a full-time student – I’m living proof – but it is challenging in the beginning.

A helpful tip I’ve found to be beneficial in the long run is giving yourself enough time for short breaks in between activities, and talking to your manager about your new school schedule as soon as you get it. For example, getting out of school at 1:30 pm and then going straight to work for a 2 pm -8 pm shift is not a good idea! Give yourself at least an hour and a half in between to allow for a short snack break or nap. Don’t push your body to the limit and tire yourself out. Your body needs to rest and rejuvenate, which is impossible if you’re not leaving any extra time to relax. You need to make sure that you won’t be exhausted by the time you leave work, so you’ll have enough energy to complete your homework. Finding a balance between activities is vital for being successful in your career and academic life.

Secondly, talking to your manager as soon as you get your new school schedule allows for them to have enough time to adjust your schedule appropriately, and encourages a positive work relationship. Waiting until the last minute to tell your superiors your updated schedule can be problematic in that you waited too long and could potentially cost your job as a result. If you plan on keeping a good work relationship with your manager, you need to be respectful and update them on any changes that may need to be made in a timely manner.

Another tip is to utilize tools that can help you keep track of the days/times you have work or school. An example of this would be using a planner, which is my personal favorite; a reminder app on your phone; setting up alarms; or using a physical/app calendar. A planner is great because it shows you a full calendar and agenda-style pages that allow you to write more details on events you may have, all while being portable and convenient. Many don’t like the idea of having to physically write events down on paper, so using apps on a phone might be a better choice. A reminder app or calendar app is also extremely helpful in keeping track of different activities, and is also great for portability. You can set the day, time, and even location in a reminder and calendar app, which may be beneficial if you are starting a new job and aren’t familiar with the location yet. Setting alarms is an easy but important step to do! If you are blessed enough to have a “natural” alarm clock, this may not be necessary for you, but for those of us who are unlucky and need someone or something to wake us up, an alarm is essential for being punctual. Set as many alarms as you need. If you know you are a deep sleeper set 2-3 alarms before you need to get ready to go to work or school.

These are just a few examples of tools that can be useful for managing work and school schedules. It will take a lot of trial and error to determine what tools will help you manage and balance your unique schedule. Remember to relax and take a deep breath when you’re feeling stressed, and let your body rest when you are getting tired! Following these tips for a week may not help you fully adjust to your new way of life, but will definitely help you get into a routine.