Getting a college education is a challenge all by itself. So when you add the responsibility of working a job while earning a degree, there’s naturally going to be an added level of stress. And while this is pretty common for students, there’s the challenge of dealing with that kind of stress in a way that’s going to render a positive outcome towards your academic work.
The Demands And Challenges College Brings
College coursework has its own set of demands. The syllabus alone requires hours of reading assignments and projects that need to be done outside of class. Let’s not forget about the actual amount of class time that you must commit. If you’re going to college part-time, then you’re dedicating time to at least 2 courses a week per semester whereas a full-time student can dedicate time anywhere between 3 to 6 classes a week.
It is recommended that students dedicate at least 3 hours of outside classwork for every course. So if we go by this formula, then you could be spending up to 6 hours toward college coursework as a part-time student and up to 18 hours as a full-time college student. Adding a 40-hour workweek to that schedule will add up to a significant amount of time that you need to dedicate toward your job and academic studies.
FNU doesn’t want you to feel burnt out so take the following tips to heart as we show the best ways to balance work and study:
Have A Plan And Be Organized
Easier for some more than others, but you need to stay organized between your work and in class. Do this by keeping your school and work materials organized in separate places. This makes it easy for you to find them. When it comes to schedules and deadlines, use different colors on your calendar or planner to never get them confused. Start every single assignment early to enable you to complete them just in case other things come up. This also means scheduling time to study so you’re not cramming before an exam or at work.
Find Ways To Create A Flexible Schedule
It is important to understand and accept the fact that some parts of your schedule will not be flexible especially class times and workdays. You should, however, take advantage of things like PTO, changing shifts, or flexible hours to study to do your homework. As a student who is working at the same time, you should be ready to adapt to late nights with assignments, sudden work requests or unexpected errands. However, the most important thing to do here is to make enough studying time in your schedule because work is making money while getting an education is spending it.
Prioritize And Be Realistic
Time is a limited resource as you work and go to school – this is the first step to understanding what you can realistically handle. Always be honest with yourself. You simply do not have the time to do everything. Therefore, decide on your priorities and accept that some things will have to change. Making time to socialize and exercise is important for your mental well-being, but you may have to miss a few outings to complete an assignment or fit in a shift. Just remember that your life won’t always be this hectic and for now you need to excel at these two objectives.
Avoid Time Wasting
Setting boundaries is important in all aspects of life as many things will waste your time if you allow them. Therefore, try to locate yourself as close to work or school as possible to cut down on your transport time and costs. Be disciplined with your time management. Avoid spending excessive time on social media. Do the things that help you to relax but you be aware of not wasting time either.
Learn How To Manage Stress
Stress is an unavoidable part of having these dual responsibilities as a student and employee. In that case, learning how to manage it is your best choice and an important life skill. You do this by getting enough sleep, taking regular breaks, being active in class and at work, eating well, working out, and even taking a walk. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you manage stress and live your life to the fullest – after all, it’s why you’re studying!
Communicate With Your Boss And Advisor
It is important to communicate your tight schedule to your employers, clients, friends, and family. This helps in ensuring that the people around you know where and when you will be available. For you to study effectively, you need time to go through your classwork. Letting people know about your schedule prevents them from interfering with your study time. Remember, not everyone you live with or work with understands the demands of being a student. Similarly, not all your classmates will understand the responsibilities of working while in school. Therefore, communicate and let the people around you know your schedule and workloads.
Sometimes, the issue can be that you’re overworked. Oftentimes, your manager may be able to work with you, especially if you’re working towards moving up in the company. If you communicate to your boss that you’re currently taking college classes, he or she might be a bit more lenient with you. This isn’t always the case, but you can certainly try to give it a try! And it all starts with communication! Likewise, it is encouraged to let your professor know your current situation. Perhaps you’ll need to re-take a test because your job made you work overtime when you originally had plans to study for that test. Things like this happen and can certainly cause some heavy stress, but Florida National University (FNU), a regionally accredited university located in the South Florida area has graduates every spring who make it happen with hard work and determination.
Managing It All
So, how in the world do you find time to manage the stress that comes with each of these pressing responsibilities?
Oh, it’s possible!
If you’re finding the time to commit to working a job and college coursework, then it’s really about learning how to manage them and not let them manage you!
There are ways to make all of these responsibilities work in your favor. After all, you need a job to generate income while you earn a college degree. So, why not find a job that’s somehow related to the profession you want to pursue?
If you’re going to college to become a Registered Nurse, then it might be beneficial to apply for a position at a local hospital. Depending on your current academic degree, you might be eligible for an entry-level job. If you have a high school diploma, applying for a position in the office cafeteria, or in maintenance can also be beneficial as it gets your foot in the door and offers you the opportunity to network with professionals in the hospital. You can let them know that you’re currently working towards a degree in Nursing and possibly even arrange some clinical hours there. Who knows? You may eventually land a career as an RN in the very same facility! Companies are more likely to see whom they can hire internally first because it’s easier for Human Resources to process a promotion than to hire someone externally. Plus, when a company hires internally, they have a better track record of someone’s work performance.
Want To Know If There Are Other Options?
Of course, there are other alternatives!
You can get a work-study position on your college campus. This can alleviate the stress of driving back and forth in traffic from work to school. As a student employee, you may also have the opportunity to network with campus faculty and administrators outside of the classes you take. Your work ethic along with the academic commitment you show will be noticed, and as a result, opportunities may be presented to you that might not otherwise have been.
When it comes to certain opportunities becoming available to you, nothing is guaranteed, but one thing is certain: If you don’t put yourself out there in a position to communicate with professionals, it’s almost guaranteed that not many opportunities will come your way.
There are many ways to alleviate the amount of stress your college and professional work can put on you, and this option is entirely up to you as it deals directly with your income.
For courses that you know will require a considerable amount of study hours, consider not working! This might be an option when you’re working part-time, but full-time workers might have more of a challenge. Another way you might want to approach reducing the amount of work for study time is taking some of your paid vacation time off. You alone know exactly how much money you’ll need to live off of, so use wise judgment.
Weighing The Options
At the end of the day, it’s totally up to you to determine what you can handle and what needs outweigh the other. Some students have the advantage of alleviating some of their work hours so they’ll have more time to commit to academic studies. Others absolutely have to work and can only commit the minimum—sometimes even fewer hours toward their academic studies.
For More Tips About How To Manage Your College Education
Let us help make your college career a little less stressful! It is possible to work and go to college at the same time! Contact FNU for an appointment with one of our advisors today.