Now, as a college student, I’m no stranger to balancing school and work. Having held various jobs since I was 15, I look at this as preparing for the future. Working and going to school full-time is one of the most difficult things I’ve learned to conquer in my short 20 years of living.
Currently, as a proud worker of three jobs – it’s important that I know how to handle this jam-packed schedule while still keeping my education as the main priority. Nothing makes me more proud than handing over a check from my bank account every semester, paying and upkeeping for my own car, and balancing various expenses.
If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed with your schedule, check out how to balance work and school with your time and finances.
5 Ways you can balance school and work as a college student
Your time is valuable, which is why learning how to properly balance your time when working and going to school is essential. Here are 5 ways you can balance your schedule as a college student.
1. Plan your time between school and work
I’ve always struggled with (and still do) finding a healthy balance between school, work, and social life. Also, I’ve gotten used to saying no to any plans and had a problem sitting still. I’ve scheduled my classes to take place in the mornings and go right from class to work.
At first, this routine was tremendously stressful, but I found my niche. I work best in the mornings, so often, I do my homework days in advance in the mornings and on the weekends. Preparation and motivation are hard to attain, but developing a routine, writing it down, and sticking to it will pay off.
Being a college student and working a 30-hour workweek seems like a lot, but I couldn’t be happier to be doing it. Yes, the money I’m earning and paying towards my education is important, but so are the experiences I’m getting and the relationships I’m making. Working for jobs and internships in my field has opened my eyes to what I want for my future and what I can really see myself doing- you only learn this through job experiences.
In addition, working in the foodservice industry has opened me up to a lot of new people and connections that have helped me further my career. Small gifts of school supplies, articles pertaining to my studies, and book recommendations are simple things that remind me why I love working and meeting people. I've benefited in many ways by working and going to school.
2. Batch your tasks
One of the most important things you need to do when working full-time and going to school is to optimize your time and productivity. The most effective way to do this is by batching your tasks. Batching tasks is when you group similar tasks together to work on. For instance, if you were researching and writing a paper rather than jumping back and forth between the two, you would batch your research tasks then switch to writing your paper. This helps you become more productive by streamlining your tasks.
After you batch your tasks, you can then start time-blocking too. This is where you block off sections of time to complete whatever task you are working on. For example, if you were going to do research tasks, you would block off time on your calendar to complete them, such as 9 AM-11 AM. This is a very effective method for time management. These are key methods to balancing work and school.
3. Enroll in online classes when possible
Another excellent way to balance school and work is to enroll in online classes when possible. Taking classes online results in more time for work, studying, and leisure time because you cut out many hours from commuting to school. For instance, let's say it takes you 20 minutes to get to school one way. That's an extra 40 minutes a day which adds up to over three hours a week you free up! That's quite a bit of extra time you could spend studying or even pull a couple of extra hours at work.
4. Get organized
A vital part of balancing work and school is getting organized. Being organized prevents you from wasting time searching for lost items such as your keys or phone. It can also keep you from paying bills late and can help you master your time too. Knowing where everything is will keep you from getting overwhelmed from working full time and going to school.
It would also help if you used a planner to keep track of your school and work schedule to ensure you stay on track. This will prevent you from missing classes or work shifts too.
5. Treat yourself
It's important that you treat yourself for your accomplishments. Rewarding yourself for achieving your goals as a college student will help prevent burnout and keep you motivated! Taking time out for self-care and enjoying yourself is a part of balancing your life. There are plenty of ways to reward yourself even on a budget.
5 financial tips for college students balancing school and work
Working and going to school can be a challenge for any college student. However, it's important that you also stay on top of your finances. Checking in with your finances regularly can keep you from busting your budget and help you stay on track with your money goals. It's way too easy to blow money as a college student, especially when it comes to going out. In fact, 70% of college students spend money on alcohol every month. That can add up to quite a bit of cash!
The key to balancing working full time and going to school is to create a financial plan. The last thing you want to be is a broke college student, and you can avoid this by learning how to manage your money wisely.
Learning how to manage your money as a college student can set you up for financial success. Check out these 5 key financial tips to help you with your money while working and going to school!
1. Create a college student budget and track your cash flow
Budgeting your money is an important part of balancing school and work. It's crucial you create a budget every month, especially if you have inconsistent income. Pick a budgeting method that works best for you and get started.
Also, if you pay for tuition as I do, you should absolutely set up a payment plan, if possible, that is paid each month. As for loans, take only what is necessary and start to make monthly payments on the loans. You’ve already heard it a million times but do not make the minimum payments! The more you pay, the less interest accrues.
After you calculate your monthly expenses for tuition, books, transportation/gas, and a small allowance for various expenditures, find out how much you need to be making.
2. Get the right job
The go-to jobs for college students include restaurants and bars; I definitely recommend this if you thrive in fast-paced environments. For those who need calmer environments – babysitting is definitely an easy opportunity for students to make money. The hours are flexible, and you can always pick up more hours, morning or night. Don't forget to check out remote jobs too!
If you’re looking for more work experiences, do not overlook paid internships – that’s right, they exist! Internships always take priority over any waitressing job, be persistent in working out a fixed hourly wage.
Once you have a steady stream of income, you can begin your money schedule. In a spreadsheet, list everything you pay monthly in one column and the amount you bring in monthly. From there, you can figure out if this job is right for you and will be earning you enough money. Don’t’ forget you do not have to feel like you’re stuck at your job! It's vital to find the right job to help you balance school and work.
3. Avoid credit card debt
It is way too easy to start charging on your credit cards. However, it's crucial that you avoid racking up debt in college because you don't need to have more debt in addition to any student loans you have. Only use your credit card if you can pay the balance off every month, so you avoid debt and high interest costs. If you can't afford it with what you are earning with your job, then just avoid it.
4. Try to avoid student loans
One of the biggest money-savers you can do as a college student is to avoid student loans. You can do this by applying for grants, scholarships, or even crowdfunding to supplement costs. Do your best to save as much as possible towards your college education as well. Another way to reduce costs is to find housing off-campus. Finding an affordable apartment instead of living on campus is a great way to reduce college expenses.
If you still have to consider student loans, compare student loan options to save as much money as possible. This way you have money for more important things such as investing!
5. Find budget-friendly things to do to save money
Eating out, going to the movies, and shopping can seriously bust your budget. However, it's super easy to find fun things to do that are budget-friendly or even free! You can visit museums, parks, or other low-cost places to enjoy yourself on a budget. Try a new hobby, or maybe you can learn an instrument. There are plenty of productive and fun things you can do rather than spending money.
Be a successful college student balancing school and work
Working full time and going to school can be a challenge, but applying these tips will help you balance your time efficiently. You just need to fully understand your money needs and find a healthy balance between work and school. Most importantly, do not let your job(s) overshadow your ultimate goal of a degree. Being proactive by creating a budget and making financial goals can help you become a successful working college student!