Planning helps balance school, job

Jordan Chaffer, contributing writer

No one is really prepared for their first year of taking college classes. Sure, you may have all your books pre-ordered, your clothes for certain days picked out, and you may even have food preparation planned.

Unfortunately for some college students, that all goes out the window as the first semester goes by. Keeping up with the college course load can be tough to manage, especially when adding a part- time job into the mix. Here are some tips to help working students balance their work and school lives.

The first tip is to know your work limit. If you can only handle 15-20 hours a week at your job, make sure your supervisors know this. Most bosses, especially in a college town, understand you are splitting your time up several ways and are willing to help any way they can. Knowing how much time you can spend at work weekly is important. It helps you determine when you can do homework, eat or do other productive activities. Once you decide how many hours you can work, speak to your manager.

Another important tip is to tell your managers your availability. If you know you can’t work on Tuesdays, say so. If you don’t, and you are scheduled to work, you are responsible for showing up and fulfilling that shift. If you decide not to show up, you can get in trouble with your coworkers and managers. When no one takes your shift, you must show up, and if you choose not to show up, disciplinary action will follow.

Here’s a homework tip for you. Do it as soon as you get off work, or right before you go to work. Sometimes your homework is to turn in a five-question quiz online. If your work schedule for that day allows you to turn it in before you go in, do it. It’s one less thing you have to worry about cramming in later. I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times I waited until I got off at 11 p.m. to work on a short assignment due at 11:59 p.m. when I could have done it earlier that day. Sometimes you will have to wait until you get off in the evening to do your work, and that’s perfectly fine, but waste no time when you get home. Our parents aren’t around to keep us on track anymore; we must do that for ourselves.

Let’s say you have work right after class. You don’t want to be late, but you don’t want to leave class early. There’s an easy solution for that; take your work clothes to class. Some students wear their work uniforms to class. Others leave their clothes in their car, and their job allows them to change when they get there. I had to take my clothes with me to class almost every time I worked on weekdays.

It’s not easy being a college student. It becomes increasingly difficult when you add a part-time job into the mix. But with the right balance, working while in school is very doable. It was hard for me to balance class and school at first, and my grades suffered because of it, causing me to leave my job for a few months. Once I figured out how to balance the two, life got a lot easier.

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