Today I would like to address a topic lots of students struggle with: balancing having a job and having good grades. Usually, it seems to be one or the other, but I want to show you that balancing it all is totally doable and I will show you how.
Before getting into the advice, a few sentences about my own background: I have been studying every summer and ten hours a week for the last two years. I have struggled, in the beginning especially, but now I feel like I have found the “right pace”. Those ten hours a week do not prevent me from being valedictorian, so I think I may have some good tips for you.
Full-time jobs and online classes
I would like to start that post by saying that I will not talk about students who have to work full-time as I do not want to give advice on things I have not experienced myself. However, if that is the situation you are in, I would recommend that you research online classes. More and more universities offer that possibility and the degree you would like to get may be available so just know it does exist. Once enrolled into such a program, you will be able to create a study schedule that matches your needs.
Juggling between a few hours a week and university
If you are like me and you work between ten and twenty hours a week, it is likely that you will be able to rely on the following tips. You may need to pay off student loans, rent an apartment or have an asset on your resume but altogether, school remains you priority. Thus, here is what you can do to make the most out of your time and energy:
I – Try to fit your X hours a week in one or two days only
Number one (and most important) tip. If possible, ask if you can do all your hours the same day or in two days following each other. For instance, I work ten hours on Saturdays and that is all. I know it can feel overwhelming, especially when you just had an awful school week but I can assure you it is far better than doing a few hours each night. If you do your ten hours on Saturdays, that means you can get organized through the school week without having to think about work even one second. Thus, you will be far more focused on school work during the week and far more productive. Your life will be divided into two different parts that never have to meet one another.
II- Chose the job carefully
Look for a job that has at least a little to with your degree. Well, I know it is hard and I personally did not manage to follow that tip, but maybe you can! For instance, if you want to become a teacher, ask a school if you can give classes at night or help children do their homework. I personally study History and literature and work at a supermarket (very different realms!) but if you can do better, go for it! It may make a huge difference on your resume the day you will look for a grown-up job (it also shows that you did not chose your career the day before the interview but were already working towards it X years before!)
III – Say “no” (even though you are scared)
Know how to say “no” to your boss. That may seem counter-intuitive as you want to keep your job, but you need to keep your priorities straight, especially if the work you are doing is meaningful to you. When I worked for a newspaper, I loved my job very much. However, I was paid very little so I left but each and every time I got a call from my boss asking me to spend my Saturday night at the local theatre and write a paper about the play due on Sunday morning, I said “yes”. The problem with that reaction is that it is time I would not spend on my essays and thus, I would never be entirely focused.
IV) Do not be perfectionist (but still be serious)
I struggle with that, a lot. If you are perfectionist, do it as far as school is concerned but do not exhaust yourself for a job you do not plan to keep your whole life. I am absolutely not telling you to be negligent, but there is a middle-ground between arriving late at work every week and trying to be “the best”. You need to do your work, and you need to do it well but know your limits and try not to go beyond them as you want to keep your energy for school work.
V) Use that opportunity to enjoy studying
If you love the job you are doing, you may want to study as much as possible to make it your grown-up job after you got your degree. However, having a job you hate can also be profitable to your studies. Wait, what? Actually, that is quite logical: if you spend you weekends doing a job you hate, you will feel more motivated to study on the week days as you will understand what you do not want to do with your life. Having a student’s job can be very profitable to your studies even though at first, it may seem like a “loss” of energy.
I hope that post helped my fellow working-students understand that their job may be an opportunity rather than a liability,
Lots of love,