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How to Find Balance as a Working Student

Finding the right balance between school, life, and work is difficult but not impossible. Check out these tips on how to balance it all as a working student!

As a student, your coursework can often be as time intensive as a job. You have to attend weekly (or daily) lectures, complete assignments and exams by specific deadlines, and participate in group activities that require meeting outside the classroom. If you also need to work a part-time job on top of those responsibilities, you know how incredibly hectic life can be. Fortunately, there are a ton of ways to achieve a healthy work-school-life balance and feel less stressed about all your obligations. Here are some great tips for college students who work.

Keep a planner

It's essential to keep a planner or calendar to stay on top of your tasks. Whether you use a physical or online system is up to you. It may make more sense to try platforms like Google Calendar or Todoist so you can access your notes from anywhere. On the other hand, using paper planners may allow you to better remember what's due by writing your tasks down by hand. Either way, use no more than two organizational tools; if you use too many, your schedule will be difficult to manage. Be sure to update your planner with assignments, work shifts, and other various commitments each week. Write down important exams like midterms and finals ahead of time so you can schedule in study time accordingly, then modify your calendar as your responsibilities change.

Related: How to Manage Your Time as a Student

Use campus and work resources

Many working college students become overwhelmed or stressed because of their daily routines. As a result, those with mental health issues can struggle at work and in school without help—and some individuals don't even realize when they're depressed or anxious. That's why it's incredibly important to take advantage of campus resources or any resources provided by your workplace. Almost all universities offer the services of counselors or psychiatrists who can assist you, whether you’re overwhelmed, anxious, or unhappy. If you're too nervous to talk to a health professional, try reaching out to a trusted adviser, professor, or coworker. Professors can recommend study solutions, advisors can offer additional ways to succeed, and coworkers may be able to help ease work stress. Remember that everyone at your school and job wants to see you do your best. If you're part of a work-study program, be sure to chat with your supervisor. They may be able to rearrange your schedule or help you find another position if you feel like you can't handle your current situation.

Related: 5 Great Campus Resources Students Should Know About 

Modify your schedule 

Every college major has its share of difficulties. However, if you space out your course load, you can avoid an especially hard semester. While you don't need to plan for the next four years, you should look at each semester as a whole. Most colleges have certain credit requirements that vary from degree to degree. For example, if you study Biology, you'll need to take a variety of science courses and labs to graduate. Therefore, you should research each of those required classes. Sometimes you can pick from a pool of courses to fulfill one requirement. Next, see when every course occurs. Some professors only teach during spring semester, so you won't be able to take their class in the fall. Create a tentative schedule for your next two semesters, and while making your plan, consider spreading out tough classes so you can more easily manage a work-school-life balance. Your experience will be much easier if you’re not taking several challenging courses in a row or at a time. Once you’ve created a tentative plan, be sure to schedule a time to discuss it with your advisor. They can double-check it to make sure you're on the right track to graduation.

Related: How to Get Adjusted to a New Schedule

Designate time for friends

Though school and work are top priorities, your friends should be too. It's not easy to keep up with a social circle when you're busy, but it's possible—and worthwhile. Healthy, consistent friendships can boost your academic performance and provide a necessary means of support. When you go through a rough time, you can vent to people who care about you. Plus, a night out with a tight-knit group can relieve a lot of stress and help create good memories. Do your best to set aside a couple hours each week for your friends!

Do what works for you

These are just a few ways to go about managing your busy life. Too often college students can have trouble finding a good balance, but the most important thing is finding what works for you and what makes you comfortable—because your idea of time management may look completely different from someone else’s. By following a few of these tips, you can take control of your life and enjoy a positive education and work experience.

Tell us how you balance your busy schedule on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and find more time management advice in our Student Life section.

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About Alyssa Abel

Alyssa Abel

Alyssa Abel is an education writer who helps students and teachers pursue their passions. Read more of her work on Syllabusy


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