College is a time for both personal and professional growth. You’re there to learn, but you also have the opportunity to make friends and have a good time before you enter the professional world.
With that in mind, it might not seem possible to balance a job on top of classes and social life. Here are some tips on balancing life during college.
Just like you plan your semester of classes ahead of time, you should also estimate your average weekly spending before you return to campus.
The goal of budgeting is to figure out the average amount of money you’ll need for each week. Once you have that weekly total, you’ll know how many hours you need to work per week to cover the costs.
Some things to take into consideration when calculating this weekly total are living expenses, extracurricular activities and savings. Living expenses commonly include items such as groceries, gas money, laundry money and cost of medications and the like.
With all of the stress that comes with being a college student, it’s helpful to try to allot a bit of fun money to go out to dinner, to a football game or other extracurricular activities every so often.
Lastly, always account for unexpected expenses in your budget, like holidays and birthdays or car repairs. They’re inevitable, and being prepared for them ahead of time can make life much easier.
Once you total all of this up, you’ll have your estimated expenses for the semester.
First things first, get a planner or download a planner app. Organization is vital to proper scheduling and a planner is an efficient and simple way to schedule appointments and take notes.
“Use different colored pens for school, work, and student organizations to keep track of things,” says Sophia Lusk, a sophomore at The University of Michigan. Color coding your appointments and notes will make them easier to read (and it’s more fun than looking at black and white).
When you have multiple obligations to account for, you’ll have to be very proactive with your scheduling. Keeping a planner updated may seem tedious, but reminders and notes can help make sure you don’t fall behind and become overwhelmed.
Before you begin scheduling your work hours, make sure you have already picked out classes and received the syllabus for each class. Ideally, you should schedule around your classes, not vice versa. Your syllabi will also tell you which weeks have more tests, papers due, etc., so you can attempt to schedule around them.
In the midst of all of this, don’t forget to pencil in study time. Every person is different when it comes to study hours, so you should decide how much time you’ll need.
Physical and mental health are important; make sure you leave time to properly eat, clean and relax.
The Right Job
A part time job in college might not be your dream job, but you’ll gain valuable knowledge from any kind of job. There are some factors to consider to make sure the job is a good fit for you.
Finding a job where other college students work might be enjoyable and convenient. Build good relationships with your student coworkers; if you’re able to cover a shift or give someone a ride, do so, because you may be in that situation at some point, too.
An assistant or desk job might be a good option if you can get one. “Working at front desks or being an office assistant gives you the benefit of being able to study when you’re not doing your work,” says Lusk. Desk jobs in the computer lab, library and similar places can often give you a quiet place with relatively low traffic, allowing you to both work and study.
Finding a job relevant to your career can be harder to do, but it’s worth a try. Paid internships aren’t always the easiest to come by during the school year, but are a great option. Alternatives to internships range from school employment to jobs at local businesses related to your major – if you’re a communication major, try to work for the media house. If you’re a pre-med student, help out at the local hospital. As a business major, look for a sales job at a retailer or something similar.
Consider joining a student organization along with school and work. Although it may seem like joining a student organization just means taking on more responsibilities, they can be very helpful in balancing your schedule.
Many organizations will have grade requirements and to make sure requirements are met, the organization will offer study sessions. These sessions can be used as your study time in your schedule and put you in an environment where everyone else is working. You’ll likely find other people who have the same classes or major.
The best benefit of joining organizations is that you’ll grow both your personal and professional networks, which will come in handy during college and beyond.
You only get a limited amount of time in college, so make the best of it. Hopefully you’ll be able to take advantage of all of the great opportunities available to college students.
Do you have any tips for working during college? Share in the comments below.
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