Working while you’re in college can be challenging, but it can also be an opportunity to improve your financial standing, whether by paying college costs or building your savings. If you’re among the many college students who also work, these tips may help you find and maintain your balance so you can get the most from both of these experiences.
1. Create and stick to a schedule. Whether you plan your work schedule around your classes or vice versa, map that time out so that you always know where you need to be and when. Then add in study hours, meals, extracurricular activities, exercise, downtime and sleep. A schedule that incorporates everything you need and want to do can be an essential tool for establishing good time management habits.
2. Strive to make the most of the time you have. When you have choices — e.g., whether to take a job on campus or one that requires a commute, or whether to incorporate some online classes into your academic schedule — consider the potential time savings and flexibility of one option versus the other. Imagine all the ways you could use an extra half-hour each day!
3. Keep work and school separate. Set mental boundaries between work and school so you can focus fully on the task at hand. While multitasking may be tempting, it can be stressful and inhibit your ability to excel.
4. Build a support system. Honest, open communication is vital to achieving support from everyone from your friends and family to your manager and professors. Be clear about your priorities and responsibilities so they will understand and respect limitations on your time, and be supportive when your workload is heavy. Remember that universities offer support, too: Study groups, tutors and other resources may help you learn stronger study skills or help you navigate a difficult class.
5. Take good care of yourself. When life is busy, it’s easy to forget about eating healthy, staying hydrated, and getting enough exercise and sleep, but these basics are important to your health and well-being. As mentioned above, make time for exercise and sleep every day. And when it comes to eating, steer clear of gulping meals and energy drinks on the run. A strong, well-fueled body can help you think more clearly and provide the stamina you need to get through the day.
6. Keep your eyes on the prize. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of working and going to school, remember why you’re doing this: to prepare yourself for a career without incurring loads of student debt. Hang in there and know that your future self appreciates your hard work and commitment.
7. Celebrate your achievements. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back every time you reach one of your short- or long-term goals. This can be as small as making it through a particularly hectic week or as large as landing that degree. Give yourself credit. You deserve it!