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Balancing School and Work

By Jada Butler
Assistant News Editor

One of the many challenges college students face is maintaining a stable balance between classwork and a part-time job. Where do we find the time to focus on assignments, readings, research and punching the time clock? Though a perplexing situation, there is a simple solution: time management.

Photo by Caroline Ryan Students use planners to map out their week
Photo by Caroline Ryan
Students use planners to map out their week

This spring semester, I have a full schedule of 15 credits; as a journalism major, about 99 percent of my assignments involve writing lengthy essays, articles, and research papers – I write every single day. This portion of my academic career takes up most of my time on the weekdays. Aside from academics, I work part-time in retail at Old Navy in the Hicksville Broadway Mall.

I work at least 12 to 20 hours a week at Old Navy, usually hour-long shifts on the weekends that take up most of my day leaving me with enough personal time to eat breakfast and dinner. I spend approximately 15 hours in classes and meetings during the week, leaving me to dedicate free time to work on homework assignments, reach out and interview sources for the newspaper, write articles and eat.

I am able to allocate the time to work by being aware of my availability and estimate how many hours, on average, I need to complete my work as efficiently as possible. This helps to outline a flexible schedule that works with Old Navy and my academics.

Here are some tips to balance school and a part time job:

Keep a planner. Whether it is a physical agenda, or an electronic calendar, notepad, or reminder – I use all four – cataloging the various activities of your day is a great way to find the rhythm in your schedule.

Communicate with the authoritative figures in each setting. More often than not, your employers will be understanding of the importance of your education. My manager, Caitlin, schedules me for the weekends, leaving my weekdays – and nights – free to complete homework assignments.

Having a firm grasp of the structural balance between school and work is all good and well, but you can’t ignore the health aspects that contribute to any type of stress-related activity. Most importantly, you need to sleep. Each night, determine the exact time when you “call it quits” and clock out, and stick to that schedule. You can only perform well when your body is well-rested and recharged for the day. On some occasions, I get called into work on a day that I also have class. If I slept well the night before, it would make for a smooth transition from school, to work and then back home.

There are multiple factors involved in balancing school and work, but it is possible.

Having a part-time job is beneficial to a college student for the obvious reason – money. My paycheck covers school materials and supplies such as textbooks, binders, and pens; eating out or ordering Chinese or pizza; and going out with friends or shopping for clothes. It also helps cover the expenses it takes for me to go home to Pennsylvania at least once a month to visit my family and friends. Having money to spend makes for a more enjoyable college experience. A part-time job also teaches you how to juggle multiple responsibilities. I work at the register, recover the floor, do customer service and restock merchandize. At school I write for the Pioneer weekly, attend classes and meetings, conduct various interviews, participate in school activities and still somehow find time to clean my room.

The great part about learning how to juggle responsibilities with a part-time job is the preparation it grants you for the next step after college: facing the “real world” and all the heavy responsibilities that come with it. Responsibilities such as balancing a checkbook, paying rent, water and electricity bills, car payments, and balancing a professional and personal life. By having a part- time job and successfully balancing it with school, all of the hard work will pay off in the end.


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