Dealing with school and a job can be very challenging. You can face days with little to no sleep, no time to do assignments, and no time to spend with friends and family. While you may not be able to change these things, you can make the best of the situation.
One of the biggest negative impacts of working while attending school is not having enough time to do homework. Often, you will find that you will have no time between school and work.
Since your classes are generally not back-to-back, you may have an hour or two between them. It’s nice to hang out with friends or eat during that time, but this is time that can be better spent. Think about school as a 9 to 5 job. Focusing solely on school during this time will give you more time later on. Between classes, try going to the library and getting homework done. Even if you have none that is due, work ahead and study. This will give you less of a workload later on. You will find that when doing homework between classes, you will be able to complete all assignments before you go to work.
Another challenge with going to school and working is the possible late hours. Often your work day begins when class day ends. Working until 2am or later is common, and there is really nothing you can do about it (besides quitting). The late hours can be especially difficult if you have to get up early for class. While you may want to sleep in and skip class, don’t! If you are dead tired during the day and feel like you cannot function, try taking a quick power nap. A 15 minute nap will help you feel completely reenergized, and ready for a late night. Do not, however, take a much longer nap. These will generally make you feel more tired, and often can keep you awake at night when you should be sleeping.
Another issue many student employees deal with is stress. Long days with no sleep and constant work can be very stressful. You may feel constantly bombarded with work and have no time for yourself. If you feel like this, taking a little “me time” is very important. You can do whatever you want during this time. Grab a quick snack with friends, nap, workout, work on your car, read a book, or do whatever hobby you may have. While you don’t want to spend a lot of time doing the activity of your choice, spending a half hour or so will free up your mind and make you feel better and more prepared for what lies ahead.
Another challenge that student employees may face is homesickness. This is especially prevalent among first semester freshman who live away from home. Working on weekends may keep you from having the time to go home and visit with family and friends. This can be especially difficult if you haven’t ever really been away from family before. Adjusting from home life to college life is difficult at first, but it gets easier over time. When you first start school, it may help you to take off work every few weekends, if possible, and go back home. Doing this once a month, or once every two months will help keep the feeling of homesickness away, and also give you something to look forward to. If you can’t take off work to go home, try keeping in touch with your parents. A daily phone call can help you feel right back at home. As time goes on, it becomes easier to stay at school for long periods of time without seeing family.
A final challenge you will face is known as “hours creep.” If you are doing a good job, your employer will probably want you to put in more hours. The idea of more money will be appealing at first, but before you know it, you’re virtually a full time employee. Grades begin to suffer. In many cases, the extra money is used for things you don’t need. You may begin to build up credit card debt. It’s a vicious cycle.
When your employer asks you to do more hours decline. Tell your employer that you promised your parents that you work no more than x hours. If your employer continues to pressure you, look for another job.
Part-time jobs are often a necessity for college students. They can be very harmful if you don’t manage the time between school and the job..