Getting a college education is a challenge . So, when you add the responsibility of working 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 school stress in a way that’s going to render a positive outcome towards your academic work.
How to Deal with School Stress
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 4 classes a semester.
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 12 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.
Here are some times to help you balance work and school:
Have a Plan and be Organized
You need to stay organized between your work and classes. Do this by keeping your school and work materials. When it comes to schedules and deadlines, use different colors on your calendar or planner to avoid getting them confused. Start every assignment early 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. You should, however, take advantage of things like, changing shifts requesting flexible to study and complete 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. For some students, online courses are a great option. However, make sure you have the discipline to participate in class, complete assignments, and succeed on exams.
Prioritize and be Realistic
Time is a limited resource as you work and go to school. 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 events 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. Therefore, try to keep work and school in close proximity to cut down on your transportation time and costs. Be disciplined with your time management. Avoid spending excessive time on social media. Engage in activities that help you to relax but avoid those that provide little benefit.
Learn How to Manage School Stress
School Stress is an unavoidable part of having dual responsibilities as a student and employee. To manage it all, it is important to get enough sleep, take regular breaks, be active in class and at work, eat well, and get some exercise. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you manage stress and live your life to the fullest – after all, it’s why you’re studying!
Communication is Key
It is important to communicate your schedule to your employer, friends, and family. This helps the people around you know when you will be available. For you to study effectively, you need time to go through your coursework. Letting people know about your schedule minimizes interference with your study time. Remember, not everyone you live 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.
Oftentimes, your supervisor may be able to work with you, especially if you’re working towards moving up in the company. If you communicate that you’re currently taking college classes, your boss might be a bit more lenient with you or help flex your schedule. It all starts with communication! Likewise, let your professor know your current situation. Then, if unexpected work expectations arise they are more likely to help you manage. Things like this happen and can certainly cause some heavy stress, but communication is key.
Managing It All
So, how in the world do you find time to manage the stress that comes with managing school and work responsibilities?
Oh, it’s possible! 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, if you need a job to generate income while you earn a college degree, why not find a job that’s somehow related to the profession you want to pursue?
If you’re going to college for a health care related field, then it might be beneficial to apply for a position at a local medical facility. Depending on your current academic degree, you might be eligible for an entry-level job. Applying for a positions in an office, cafeteria, or in maintenance can 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. Frequently, companies are more likely to hire internally first because they are already familiar with your work ethic. Also, typically 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.
What are Other Options?
A great way to manage work and school is to 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.
Weighing the Options
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to determine what you can handle and what needs outweigh the others. Some students have the advantage of minimizing 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. Other students may find that taking courses online is the only way to manage it all.
Let Florida National University 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.