Over half of all college students have a job, which means they find themselves trying to juggle work and school. Unlike their wealthier, non-working peers, this can leave students at a disadvantage; affecting grades, and putting them under immense pressure which may become detrimental to their mental health.
Combining work and school is often difficult – but it’s not impossible. With a little strategic planning, you can stay afloat in both work and school without sacrificing your sanity and mental or physical health.
Choose A Flexible Study Option
Choosing a flexible study option means that you can fit school into your life rather than structuring your life around school. One way to achieve this is to do your course online rather than in person. If, for example, you hope to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, choose a flexible online curriculum FNP program.
Modern technology has made it possible to achieve your dreams and earn a degree without ever stepping foot on a college campus. With a flexible online degree, you can work when and where it suits you and your needs.
Set Boundaries And Be Realistic
School administrators recommend that college students work 10-15 hours per week, leaving adequate time for studying, socializing, and sleeping. For some students, this is simply not realistic. Working 10-15 hours a week doesn’t bring in enough money, and it is no wonder that 70% of college students are stressed about finances. Low-income and minority students tend to work longer hours than their high-income peers. This can eat away at precious hours you could be spending on other things.
One option is to be open with both your boss and your professors about the fact that you are juggling both work and school. Ask for extensions when necessary, schedule classes around your work obligations, and, if possible, find a job close to home (or college) so that you aren’t wasting too much time commuting.
Be realistic when making a schedule. Don’t allow work to become your life, and don’t feel guilty about not picking up extra shifts, turning down volunteer work, and opting out of optional workplace social gatherings.
Try To Work A Job That Is Relevant To Your Studies
It isn’t always realistic or indeed possible for your job to connect to your long-term academic or career goals. While high-income students can work to pursue passions and interests, lower-income students have to work to survive, which leaves less room to be picky.
When you need to work to survive, you may choose a well-paying job over one that would make you happier but pay much less. If you have multiple well-paying job options, choose the one that speaks to your passions and goals. Working in the field that you are studying gives you the opportunity to put your newfound skills and knowledge to the test right away, and in the reverse, may allow you to apply practical experience to your academic work.
Make Time To Rest
It may seem counterproductive, but taking some time to not work or study will work wonders. It can be difficult to switch off and rest when you’ve got a million and one things on your mind, but scheduling time to relax is essential.
Schedule some time every day or two to switch your brain from study mode. If your head is swimming with deadlines and assignments, write them all down so you can allow them to slip from your mind knowing you can always get to them later.
Rest can mean different things to different people. Resting is whatever fills your cup – whether that be napping, gaming, going out with friends, working out, or taking a bubble bath. If you don’t make time for rest, your body will force you to rest. Getting too run-down and burnt out won’t do you any favors.
Listen To Your Body
Your body has an amazing way of telling you what it needs. Don’t ignore it!
Learning to recognize the signs of burnout and combat it before it gets too severe is crucial for college students. If you frequently find yourself running on empty, you may be taking on too much. Your mental health is of the utmost importance, so don’t put it on the back burner to focus on school and work. Stress is normal, but can be detrimental to your long-term health if it becomes too extreme and lasts for sustained periods of time .
Make time for yourself and your needs. For many people, college is the first taste of real independence. You’re responsible for your own schedule, but with work and school taking up so much time, it’s all too easy to forget to include adequate sleep, nutrition, and health checks. These will all contribute to more energy, motivation, and a general sense of well-being.
Remember That It Won’t Be Like This Forever
Keep your future self in mind: You’re doing this for them! Someday, this stressful time will be a distant memory and you’ll be working your dream job. Try to enjoy this time. You’ll never be this young and free again.