If you’re currently a student or are set to become one in the near future, you may be wondering if it’s possible to balance your studies alongside a part-time job. Many students struggle financially, which is the main reason why holding down a job is a necessity. However, it’s often difficult to know how to balance the two. The good news is that it can be done, providing you put the right strategies in place in good time.
Becoming completely overwhelmed by two important responsibilities is likely if you don’t plan well beforehand and think about how you’re going to make it work. With this in mind, we have put together a useful guide on how you can be a top university student alongside working part-time. Discover our top tips below:
Keep an updated schedule
Providing you’re well organized time-wise, there’s no reason why your part-time job and studies can go hand-in-hand. It would be a good idea to install a calendar app on your phone that you can edit on-the-go, rather than relying on a paper calendar. This way, you can see what needs to be done as you go about your daily life and add those all-important deadline dates and lecture times onto your schedule.
If you haven’t yet started a degree and are worried about fitting in your part-time job around your studies, one of the best options to think about is enrolling onto an online degree course. These courses can be juggled around your own personal commitments, so there’s no need to worry about attending lectures at particular times. There are hundreds of online degree courses to choose from, including a degree in criminology and policing. There are three starting dates per year, so you’re free to enroll whenever you’re ready to commit to your studies once you have settled in your new job.
When you’re juggling a hectic schedule, it can be easy to sit back and relax after a hard day of work and study. While you do need some downtime, spending too much time lazing away in the evenings can often result in falling behind with your workload. Aim to stay ahead of the game by cutting out the procrastination.
Once the work starts to pile up, you’re likely to get overwhelmed and end up writing sloppy essays last minute and missing important deadline dates. Don’t get to the point where you feel too stressed to tackle your tasks. Stay on top of exam revision and research essays as soon as they are assigned. This way, you’ll find that your work/study schedule is far easier to manage.
Get enough sleep
While students like to party hard and make the most of their university experience, it wouldn’t be wise to pull all-nighters every night of the week. A cycle of study followed by a work shift and a whole night without sleep is going to make you ill. If you’re a worrier, your stress levels may have an impact on your sleep quality, which is why it’s important to try and unwind before bedtime.
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of sleep. Adults should be getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night to feel energized and ready to take on the day. There are many reasons why sleep is vital to our health, but for students, a good night’s sleep can improve focus and memory and reduce anxiety levels. It would, therefore, be in your best interests to get as much quality sleep as you can. If you struggle to nod off, there are a variety of ways you can encourage a healthy sleep regime.
Upon first starting a new part-time job, you’re likely to take every hour that’s thrown your way to please your new boss and to get your hands on some much-needed cash. However, it wouldn’t be wise to commit to a regular work schedule until you’re in full understanding of how much free time you’re going to have during your studies. Some universities even forbid students to work during term time, as they wish for them to put their all into their studies so that you can achieve the results they’re capable of. Some institutions do allow students to have a job but recommend the number of part-time hours they should commit to.
Remember – it’s a lot harder to go back on your word once you’ve committed to a shift pattern, so don’t get yourself in a sticky situation too soon into your new job. It’s much easier to work out when you can work beforehand, rather than agreeing to do shifts that you know for a fact you can’t do and then have to find cover.
Ask yourself whether you’re willing to work through the weekends and if you’d be okay with your friends catching up with one another without you. If your job is more important to you, then social time may not be at the top of your priority list, but if you know it could become a problem over time, you may need to re-think what you’re looking for in a part-time job.
Think about shift patterns
Although taking on short shifts may sound like a more reasonable option than longer shifts, you’re likely to find it to be the complete opposite. If you take on four 3-hour shifts a week, for example, you also have to consider the amount of time spent commuting to and from your workplace. It would be wise to ask your boss if you can work long shifts over a couple of days a week, rather than working every single day for a couple of hours here and there.
Try not to miss class
If your course involves attending face-to-face lectures, try not to skip class. It can be easier said than done when your job is your lifeline for financial reasons, but it wouldn’t be advised that you sacrifice your degree for the sake of your job.
University costs a considerable amount of money, and you’re
going to want to make the most of that expense for your future. The cost of
your education should give you to the motivation to attend class and get your
money’s worth, rather than missing out on vital information which could limit
your career growth in years to come based on your knowledge.
Many students also make the mistake of skipping lectures to get an extra few hours in bed and then catch up on the lectures slides. While it is possible to keep up to date with the workload, you’re essentially missing those all-important discussions and key points of view from your classmates and lecturers which could make you think more logically about developing rational arguments in your exams and essays.
If you’re going to be working against a tight schedule, it’s important you inform your employer, friends, and family of your circumstances. Although you may be nervous to dictate to your boss when you can and can’t work, it’s best to be upfront about how well you’re managing to juggle university and work so they can work around you.
Similarly, your loved ones may find it difficult to accept that you haven’t got as much time to spend with them, so talking it through will help maintain your personal relationships.
Take on a summer job instead
If there’s any possible chance of working throughout the
summer rather than in term time, then this would be probably the best option
when it comes to balancing work and study. Doing so means you don’t have to
worry about juggling two responsibilities at the same time, and you can save up
cash for the upcoming term without making sacrifices. You are free to pack in
as many hours as you can realistically achieve during the summer without the
guilt of losing valuable study time.
If financial strains aren’t a worry for you, but you do wish to get some real-world work experience, then this would be the best chance to apply for placements in your chosen career field. Internships are an ideal way of getting your foot in the door, and while they’re not usually paid, they’re a smart addition to your resume.
Think about whether it’s money or work experience you’re in need of and determine what’s most important to you before you apply for positions.
Pencil in some ‘you’ time
While you’re busy penciling in your shift times and study periods, you’ll probably completely forget about giving some time to yourself. While you may not think it’s important to set dedicated time aside for your own wellbeing, you’re essentially refusing to take care of you!
Don’t work yourself to the bone – where’s the fun in that? So, make time for your friends, go and see that movie you’ve been wanting to see for weeks and take that well-earned bath at the end of the day. After all, you deserve it!