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How to Balance Work and School

For many students, the idea of working a full-time or even a part-time job while they go to class, get their work done and study seems like a nightmare. I remember when I started college my dad wanted me to get a job on the side. He thought it was important for me to start making my own money and possibly saving. My last year of high school I stopped playing basketball and instead got a job, so it wasn’t like I had never worked before. However, college was a step up from high school and my mom thought having a job my first year would slow me down. Naturally, I agreed with her. Who wants to work freshman year of college? Eventually though, when I was a junior in college I got back on the employment train. Having my own pocket cash was great, but it was a bit difficult at first trying to balance work and school. Take a look at some of these tips that can help you balance the two more easily.

As I stated earlier, the idea of working and going to school isn’t the most attractive. After all, college is the time for you to enjoy the free time you will never really have again, right? That may be true, but given our current economic situation and the high price of student loans, working while going to college may not be a choice at all. It may sound absolutely terrible, but I can assure you it’s not that bad. On top of that, you can take certain measures to ensure that you are keeping the right balance for yourself. First things first, you should started getting organized.

It’s something you’ve heard since the beginning of high school, maybe even grade school, but staying organized is essential if you are going to balance a work life and a school life- and on top of that a social life. That is why you should get yourself a planner. In fact, you should already have one so you can keep your school work organized, but if you don’t then you should certainly invest in one. If the old-school notebook planner is too outdated for you, then use that snazzy smart phone you have and download a planner app. Either way, use your planner and jot down all of the things you have to do by day. It’s even easy if you put your classes in there, too. That way, you are on top of everything. I used a planner when I was balancing work and school and would put my work schedule in there each week. That way, I could schedule out the best times to do my homework.

Choose Your Job Wisely
When figuring out what kind of job you want to have while you are going to school, you should really think about hours and flexibility. This is why you will see most college students working in bars, restaurants and retail stores. They offer flexible hours and you don’t have to work full-time. Plus, if you are working at a bar or restaurant, you are walking away with a pocket full of cash each shift you work. Instant cash is a great thing to have when you are in college. Of course, having cash around all the time is an easy way to ensure that you spend all of your money- so make sure you are saving. It’s also important to make sure your employer knows that you are a full-time student and that school comes first. Which leads us to our next tip.

Make Time For School

When finals or midterms roll around, it can be extremely difficult trying to balance your school work load and your job. That is why you need to communicate with your employer to make sure they know your school work comes first. When finals or midterms come around, make sure you tell your employer in advance that you need those days off to study and commit fully to your classes. If you think you can handle both at the same time then by all means do it, but make sure you don’t overextend yourself. When you add work to the mix of finals, studying and all-nighters, things can get really messy. Know your limits and prepare for them ahead of time.

Make a Schedule
Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll find that it’s easy to make a schedule for the week. This is the best way to maintain a sound balance. If you make a schedule for when you are going to study and when you have work, then things will be much easier. It’s important to remember that once you set a schedule you should stick to it. That’s the hard part. It’s easy to say you will work on this at this time, and this at this time, but actually doing it is up to you. If you don’t stick to your schedule, it may be very easy to lose control and your balance.

Balancing work and school isn’t easy, and when you add a social life and sleep to the mix it’s even more difficult. It’s definitely doable though. It does require work and discipline from you. Balancing work while going to school is a great way to learn time management skills that are necessary for entering into the workforce. If you think getting a job while going to school is something you need to do, then get going and start planning. Your hard work and invested time will pay off when you have a pocket full of your own hard-earned cash.

: University Language
IMAGE: Courtesy of Online Learning Tips

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter