5 tips for balancing school and work

By Erin Eagan

Starting or continuing higher education while trying to hold down a job is no easy task, but it can be done. With the rising costs of college tuition and living expenses, millions of Americans are working while simultaneously taking classes. So whether you need to or want to work while you’re in school, rest assured you are not alone.

With the increased responsibilities you now have, you will need to find the right balance in order to succeed. Learn how to set and maintain a manageable work-school balance with these five tips:

1. Talk with your employer
Depending on your employer, there may be some flexibility where your schedule is concerned. Bring them into the conversation early on and perhaps they can accommodate changes in your schedule. Even if they cannot, it doesn’t hurt to ask. 

2. Secure a proper study spot
In order to be the most effective in your studies, find a place where you will be productive. Consider the following when choosing a location: noise, lighting and other distractions. Will you be studying at home? If so, kindly ask your family or roommates not to interrupt.

3. Set a schedule and stick to it
Time management is the key to balancing work and school, so create a strict schedule and follow it closely. Keep a weekly calendar that maps out your obligations including class time and work hours. Make sure to factor in enough study time, especially close to exams, so you’re not in a panic and trying to cram last-minute. Fill in any holes with some “me” time if possible, which could include social activities or just relaxing to take care of your own well-being.   

4. Reach out to others for support
Do you have friends and family to lean on for support? If so, utilize them. Don’t feel bad about doing so; you would do the same for them if the roles were reversed. If family and friends are not an option, remember that other students are doing the same thing you are, so be sure to inquire about any study or discussion groups you could join around campus for academic, or just moral, support. Also be sure to reach out to your instructors. No one wants to see you succeed more than they do, and they are there to help.  

5. Consider online classes if possible
Depending on the program you are enrolled in, there may be online courses available. Online courses allow you to finish coursework when it’s convenient for you and your work schedule. 

No doubt there will be ups and downs throughout your journey. Just remember that this is temporary and try to stay focused on the big picture. Others before you have gone through the same thing you are and have been successful. You can, too!