I am always worried when I see a student juggling a full course load, an internship, extracurriculars, and a social life.
It reminds me of what I experienced in my junior year of college: burnout.
I was exhausted, unmotivated, stressed… I just felt tired all the time.
So here’s my advice for working sutdents: don’t fall into that trap!
Here are some actions you can take to improve your work-school balance.
Increase your work hours incrementally
A lot of students commit to an unbearable work load right from the start.
That’s a rookie mistake!
If you don’t know what lies ahead of you, there is a good chance you will both fail your classes and perform poorly at work.
Here’s my advice: you should increase your work schedule incrementally.
That’s why I rarely recommend working during the first half of your freshman year.
Once you are accustomed to academia, you will have a good sense of what it takes to pass your classes. Then, it becomes easier to plan your class and work schedule.
Plan your class and work schedule
First things first, you need to determine how much time you can spend at work.
Ask yourself the following question: how many hours a week do I need to study to pass my exams?
Once you know the answer to that question, how much time do you have left for your job? Remember that it is extremely difficult to work and study more than 55 hours a week!
Here are my advices if don’t have enough free time:
- Request for a leave of absence when you study for your finals.
- Take advantage of your flexibility to reduce the number of commutes between your workplace, your school, and your home.
- It goes without saying that you can use your gap hours to study. Losing an hour here and there quickly adds up!
And you’re all set!
Get enough sleep
Sleep quality is incredibly important for your health.
If you don’t have enough time to sleep, you’re doing it wrong!
Why? Because sleep deprivation decreases your concentration and productivity (source).
Skipping you sleep hours to spend more time on your math problems is not worth it.
Avoid distractions and stay focused
It is important to make the most out of your study hours.
Here are some tips to avoid distractions and stay focused while you are studying:
- Shut down your smartphone – it is so easy to get distracted by a call or a Facebook notification.
- Change subjects – if you are studying the same subject repeatedly, your attention span will go way down.
- Don’t listen to music with lyrics – otherwise you will lose your focus.
- Chose the right place to study – Most people like a quiet place that is neither too cold nor too warm.
Let your employer know that you are a student
The sooner you let your employer know that you are a student, the sooner he will be willing to make accommodations.
Most employers understand that students need to take time off to study their finals!
Deal with stress
Stress is an inevitable part of being a working student.
However, too much stress has negative effects: sleepiness, loss of interest, irritability.
It is therefore imperative to keep your stress in check. Here are some essentials that you can’t skip:
- Staying physically active
- Taking regular breaks
- Eating healthy
More on this subject: How to keep stress in check – American Psychology Association.
Seek support from your family and friends
It can be really tough to manage work, school, and housework at the same time.
Your family and partner may offer support at home by taking on domestic tasks.
Classmates can also offer some sort of support: moral support. Since they struggle as much as you are, they can also reassure you that you’re not alone.
Consider online classes
In recent years, universities have published thousands of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). It gives the students the opportunity to work from home.
That’s a great way to reduce the number of commutes and save some precious time.
Whether you are studying at a college or high school, holding on a job carries significant risks to your academic performance. Getting a job isn’t a decision you should take lightly.