More and more people are choosing to attend college and work at the same time. This can be those who are going straight from high school to college or adults going back to college. Whichever applies to you, balancing school and work will be an important part of how successful you will be.
Whether you are working a part-time or full-time job, balancing school and work can be tough. There are many working students in college who are able to manage both, but there are also many who aren't able to.
If you don’t balance them both well, it may lead to stress, lower grades, low-quality work being produced, and more.
No one wants that and I’m sure you don’t either.
This is supposed to be the time of your life where you are growing and changing, not feeling like you are drowning in everything that is going on around you.
There are ways to many ways to start balancing school and work so that you can graduate college while working a job.
I took a full course load each and every semester (usually 18-24 credits each semester), worked full-time, and took part in extracurricular activities. It was definitely hard and I won't lie about that. However, sometimes a person doesn't have a choice and has to do everything at once. Or, you might be choosing to multi-task and are wanting to learn how to better manage your time.
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Working while you are going to college can help you not take out as many student loans, or you may be an adult who has to work to support your family while you are going to college. Either way, time management for college students who are also working will help you succeed at every aspect of your life.
Working while I went to college helped me take out less student loans, and I am so happy I found that balancing school and work was possible.
Whatever your reason may be, below are my tips for time management for college students who are also working. The tips below are what helped save me!
My advice for balancing school and work.
Find your motivation for balancing school and work.
There are many reasons for why you are both working and going to school, but sometimes you need to remind yourself why you are working so hard.
It can be really easy to watch others around you who aren’t doing both and feel jealous, stressed, or angry. But, remind yourself why you are working so hard.
Your motivation can be any number of things, like avoiding student loan debt, providing for you family if you are going back as an adult learner, and so on. Your motivation will be what you need when you are struggling to balance both work and school.
Carefully plan your class and work schedule.
My first tip for working college students is to carefully plan your class and work schedule.
Some students just choose whatever classes are offered. However, it is much wiser to carefully craft your school and work schedule so that everything flows together efficiently with a minimal amount of time being wasted.
To start balancing school and work with a carefully planned out schedule, you should start by researching when the classes you need are offered and start trying to eliminate any gap that may fall between your classes. Having an hour or two break between each class can quickly add up. Also, if you happen to have time off between classes, then using this time to do your homework and/or study can be a great use of your time.
Another time management tip is to try and put as many classes together in one day so that you aren’t constantly driving back and forth between school, work, and home. Balancing school and work can be hard, but it starts with creating a schedule that uses your time efficiently.
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Eliminate any time that may be wasted.
There are many time sucks that you may encounter each day, especially as you are balancing school and work and switching back and forth between the two. A minute here and a minute there may add up to a few hours wasted each day.
The time you save could be used towards earning more money at your job, studying, socializing, or whatever else it is that you need or want to do. For working college students, every minute is important.
There are many ways to eliminate the things that are wasting your time, including:
- Cut down on your commute time. If you can find a job near your college campus then you can eliminate a lot of traveling time.
- Find a way to work remotely. If you have a job that allows you to work remotely, then this can help you start balancing school and work time even better. You may even be able to work in between class breaks.
- Prep your meals ahead of time. If you can make your meals in bulk ahead of time instead of individually making each one, you will be able to save a lot of time. Making your own meals is more than just time management for college students, as it means you will probably eat healthier and save money.
- Be aware of how much time you spend on social media and cutback on TV. The average person wastes many, many hours each day on social media and watching TV. Cutting back on this may save you hours each day without even realizing it. TV and social media can be very distracting too, which is why it is so important to be aware of how it might be negatively impacting how you are balancing school and work.
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Separate yourself from distractions.
Time management for college students is hard, but it is even harder for working college students because there may be even more distractions.
Noise in the background, such as leaving your TV on while you study or a party your roommate may be throwing, can distract you from what you need to be doing. If you are trying to study or do homework then you should try to find a quiet place to get work done.
There are going to be so many distractions while you are working and going to college, and learning to separate yourself from those distractions will be one of the best ways to manage your time. I know it can be hard, trust me, but I also know how eliminating distractions can be a huge help.
You may want to close your bedroom door, hide the remote from yourself (trust me, this works!), go to the library, or something else. Sometimes you will have to force the distractions out, but it will help you save time and focus on what needs to be done.
Have a to-do list and a set schedule.
Having a to-do list is extremely helpful time management for college students, especially those who are working too. That’s because a to-do list will show you exactly what has to be done and when you need to do it by. You will then have your responsibilities sitting in front of you so that you will have to face reality.
You can have a to-do list that lists out your daily, weekly, or monthly tasks. You can use a planner, a notebook, Post-It notes, you can color code things, use stickers, etc. Just find a system that works for you and stick to it.
Balancing school and work will be much easier if you make a to-do list and keep a set schedule. So, write out what needs to be done each day, and knowing your schedule will keep you on task.
I know that when I am stressed out it can be easy to forget things, so having a to-do list eliminates any valuable minutes that I may waste debating about whether or not I forgot to do something.
Be a productive procrastinator.
We all know how bad procrastinating is, but sometimes you can actually waste your time on things that need to be done. I know that sounds strange, but it is actually quite helpful.
Here’s an example of what I mean: If you need to write a paper but find that you are procrastinating, then procrastinate by studying for a test. Now, you will still have to write that paper, but you will have already gotten the studying out of the way.
Balancing school and work is easier if you find tricks like this that make every moment you spend a productive one.
Take a break when you really need one.
Good time management for college students who are working often means that you are using trying to use every moment of your day as efficiently as possible. But, there are times when balancing school and work can feel extremely stressful.
In times like those, when you feel like you need a break, take a short one to help you come back refreshed and focused on what you need to do.
You can go for a walk, read a book, get in a workout, take a nap, etc. Taking a break when you need one will help prevent you from feeling burnt out, which is a danger when you are balancing school and work.
Find other college students who are doing the same.
I know that you aren’t the only one who is balancing school and work, and it might help you stay focused if you are able to find others who are working and going to school like you are.
Finding a friend who is doing the same can motivate you, they can help you stay on task, and you might even find someone to study with.
Working students in college need to be realistic.
While one person may be able to work like crazy and attend college at the same time, not everyone can do that.
If your grades are dropping, then you may want to analyze whether you should drop your hours at work or school. What is more important to you at this time and for your future? We can’t do everything always, and being realistic will help you understand your limitations so that you don’t burn out.
With the tips I’ve listed that help with time management for college students who are also working, you’ll be able to rock both your job and your college classes at the same time. Don’t forget to fit in time for fun as well. Good luck!
Are you one of the many working college students out there? Why or why not? What tips for time management for college students can you share?
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