Keeping Your Sanity While Balancing School and Work

By Kayla Sutter

SC Contributing Writer


A day in the life of a college student is a very busy one.

Students have mastered cramming multiple activities into short 24-hour days: Classes, study time, workouts, club meetings, mealtimes, time with friends, leisure time, and of course those extremely crucial naps.

For the average college student, life is fun but exhausting. With college tuition and the cost of living on the rise, more college students have added a job to their already packed schedule.

In 2011 the U.S. Census reported that 71 percent of the nation’s students, approximately 19.7 million college undergraduates, held jobs while college was in session. Out of that number, around one in five undergrads held full-time positions at their jobs, working at least 35 hours a week year round.

This has become normality for college students. A job on or off campus adds to the overall work level of college. It can cause added stress and anxiety for students who fear that there is not enough time to accomplish their tasks.

Talking to students around campus about their methods of balancing school and work has provided great advice for those who struggle. Here are some tips to help you balance work and school.


Get a Planner 

One of the best things for a busy individual to do is purchase and use a daily planner. They can be found in the bookstore or stores such as Wal-Mart, Staples, Target, etc.

Planners are the key to organization. Write in your class schedule, along with your scheduled work shifts.  When a professor assigns an assignment, quiz, project, paper, or exam, WRITE IT DOWN.  If you are involved in any extracurricular activities, write down those scheduled meetings too.

The brain is not always capable of remembering that you need to complete an assignment online by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. The brain normally remembers this past midnight and then you wake filled with panic.

Your brain will be released from its duties of remembering such things, allowing you to be clear, focused and organized on your studies.

You will be able to take things day by day, by opening your planner and seeing what you must accomplish before you hit the sheets.

It can also be helpful to pencil plans with friends into your planner, whether they are set or potential. This will help you find time to study and complete schoolwork at an earlier date, which allows you to be free of work and have fun.


Evaluate & Plan Ahead

Think about the classes you are taking and evaluate them. Read the syllabus and come up with an estimate of the class’s workload so you know how much time you will have to designate for studying and completing assignments.

Keeping the class’s evaluation in mind, it is extremely helpful to look at your schedule for the week (look at your filled-in planner), and to see all of the things you must do (such as going to class, work, and due dates), as well as all of the free time you have in your schedule. This allows you to figure out the best time to complete your various assignments.

Weronika Puk, a junior at ESU, is a strong believer in planning. I always plan ahead, so when I know that I have something important like an exam or assignment due, I get a head start on it, that way I am not stuck doing it or studying the night before.”

If it is Tuesday, you work the entire weekend, and you have a paper due on Monday, start the paper immediately.


Do NOT Procrastinate

This is one of the most important tips. Procrastination is a dear friend to us all, but the ties must be severed in order to be successful.

Procrastination is your worst enemy.

Studying for exams and writing papers takes time. Cramming the night before an exam until 4 a.m. after a long night at work, and waking up early to write a paper in an hour before it is due, are horrible tendencies many college students have.

“It is impossible to procrastinate and have work. I make sure, if I have a paper especially, to start it as soon as it is assigned or else I will put it off,” says Nicole Bartron, ESU junior.

Start your schoolwork as soon as you can. You will not always have downtime on the weekends or after class if you are scheduled to work. Use all of your time wisely.

Set aside a few hours to complete schoolwork on days you are not scheduled to work.  On days you do work, set aside an hour or two to complete a short assignment or study notes before or after you have work. However, be careful not to overwork yourself.


Talk To Your Employer

Money is nice to have, but college should always be your top priority. After all, you are paying to attend the University and take classes. If you feel overwhelmed, do not be afraid to talk to your boss.

If you have an exam or another big project, try to take off the day before. You should always have the most amount of time to study possible. Work should not be the reason why you did not study.

Talk to your boss about rearranging your schedule. Make sure that they are aware of your class schedule, and work on days that you know will not be a problem. If they are not willing to work around your college schedule, do not stress yourself out.

Melanie Quain, an ESU senior, learned the hard way that working more than one job while in college is nearly impossible. Being on the same page with your employer is crucial. They must know that college is your top priority.

“Make sure that you find a job that is willing to work with your class schedule and study time. If they’re not, keep moving on until you find a job that is actually reasonable and doesn’t want you to make their business your entire life.

You’re going to school for a reason, don’t get sucked into a part time job for the rest of your life.”


Have “Me” Time

College is stressful, especially while holding a part or full time job. The most important tip, that cannot be stressed enough, is to have time reserved for none other than yourself.

With so many things packing your schedule, it is easy to lose your sanity. Take time to do something alone, or with friends or family, that will take your mind off of school and work.

Lounge around, be a couch potato, take a hike, go out on the weekend or binge watch Netflix for a few hours. Being productive is important, but overworking your self can lead to mental stress and sickness.

Take care of yourself. Make sure you sleep enough at night and eat enough during the day.  Enjoy your time doing things that you love.

Your time spent here is an intro to the rest of your life. It is important to work hard, but be sure to enjoy the college life. Make memories and succeed greatly.

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