Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Balancing Work and School

Photo by Thomas Hawk
Most students report difficulty getting their work schedule to accommodate their class schedule.   If you put work over college you will never finish your degree.  Sometimes a lower paying job will net you more money if your schedules can mesh. 


For some people, there is a cool job factor, whereby some of you will take a lower paying job because you feel this job impresses friends.  Conversely, some of you will take less pay to avoid jobs you feel are beneath your dignity.  


Photo by DAEllis
Think about this, if you had a high paying job where you couldn’t work as many hours, you make less money but will tend to spend more money because you have more time on your hands. Also if you can get paid more it can reduce the number of hours that you need to work and have more time to study.  If you are concerned about spending more because of free time, then just work the full schedule and save the excess. 


 Many companies exploit young workers because they are cheap.  Once your boss sees how hard you work it is highly likely that you will be pressured to work additional hours.  Remember that time is a scarce commodity during college, so additional work must come out of your play time which we earlier noted was very low.  You will need to be firm but tactful in ensuring that you are not made to work more hours than you have available in your schedule.  


Be careful about loading your schedule too heavily, because breaks and diversions can help to reduce the likelihood of burnout. You studies will probably suffer if you work beyond 20 hours because you will tend to forgo study over having a good time with your friends.


For those living at home there will be an adjustment that parents and adult children both will have to undergo.  College takes more time than high school.  Parents sometimes don’t get this.  If your parents did not go to college, you will have to respectfully explain your time commitments.  This sample schedule could be a useful conversation tool with your parents.  Some of you have huge family commitments you need to renegotiate.   If you don’t then you will not have enough time to study.


Remember, you will need to recreate your study schedule every semester as class schedules change.  In addition, as you near the end of your degree, you will see less flexibility as you will need to do certain classes at certain times.  It is also rare to get exactly the classes and times that you want, so you will need to constantly adapt to a changing schedule.  


Multiple classes can fill some requirements, so look for those opportunities to create flexibility. If you are inflexible, you will take much longer to finish your degree.  The longer it takes for you to do your degree the less likely you will complete the degree.