Getting a university degree is a challenge in itself. On top of that, many students need a job to cover tuition and living costs. So the question is, can you perform as a student and simultaneously keep a full-time job? Is it possible to balance work and study? How?
Being a college student while having a full-time job… While it often seems like there need to be more hours in the day, pursuing a degree while working full-time is entirely possible. In fact, many people choose to do it - whether to help pay for tuition and living costs, or get a graduate degree to advance their careers.
This isn’t an easy thing and it will cost you energy and time out, but it will also pay-off in on the long term. Continue reading to learn everything you need to consider before making your decision and the best tips on balancing work and study.
Why Working While Studying Can Be Good
Pursuing a degree with a full-time job will come with many challenges, but the effort also comes with its benefits. If you have a steady income to support your studies, you won't need to take on student loans or work short gigs, never knowing if you'll be able to cover your expenses that month.
You'll also already have significant work experience once you graduate, even if your job isn't related to your field. In addition, the skills you'll have developed will undoubtedly advance your career and help you get a better job straight out of university. In fact, there are studies that show that students who work during their first year of college, tend to earn more after graduation.
Another advantage of juggling work and study is becoming used to the high intensity of a full-time work and study routine. This way, when you finish your studies and focus only on your career, you will handle the workload with much more ease than those who've never experienced a full-time job.
Should You Choose an Online Program?
The flexibility that comes with an online degree can make it much easier to balance a full-time job and your studies.
In online programmes, you can watch classes on your own time as long as you deliver your assignments within the deadline. Some programmes include synchronous courses, so check if you could attend them and factor that into your decision.
You can choose from a much broader array of options when you go online, since you aren't confined to the programmes offered by schools nearby. You'll be able to choose a programme anywhere in the world that fits your goals much more precisely.
>> If you're looking study online, check out our lists of more than 12.700 available Master's and over 5500 Bachelor's programmes. You can also find thousands of blended or part-time degrees.
However, you will have a different face-to-face interaction with your professors and classmates when you study an online course. You will likely still participate in forums and be part of chat groups, but some prefer the closer interaction from an in-person lecture or discussion.
What if Your Job Is Unrelated to Your Studies?
Getting a job in your field of study and kickstarting your career before you've graduated seems like the ideal option. Besides getting an early start, doing work related to your studies allows you to continue learning outside the classroom and applying your knowledge to real-world situations.
But finding this ideal job can be challenging. Your job will likely have little or nothing to do with your classes, and that's perfectly fine too. However, working a job that doesn't specifically advance your studies is more common and beneficial than you might think.
Even in a job unrelated to your degree, you will develop several transferable skills that will be valued in any field. You will learn how to communicate, operate, and succeed in a professional setting, and having previous work experience will only help you get your dream job eventually.
It will also push you out of your comfort zone and allow you to learn about different industries. At the very least, you will become a more versatile candidate. But, if you're lucky, you might come to enjoy your work and have even more options for your future.
Best Tips for Balancing Your Job and Studies
1. Choose a Designated Study Space
Don't mix your study space with your work and living space. Studying or working in the same place where you relax, eat, or sleep blurs the line between work and distraction and makes it harder to concentrate on your assignments. It'll become increasingly more challenging to get things done in a space your brain doesn't associate with productivity.
Avoid doing any school or job-related work on your bed or couch. This way, you'll find it easier to concentrate for longer periods. Having a designated study space with a desk and a chair and keeping it clean and well-organised is essential if you want to be more productive.
2. Prioritise Organisation and Plan Ahead
Organisation and careful planning will ensure you stay on top of your university and work assignments. An organised schedule helps you maximise productivity and avoid getting lost amidst all responsibilities.
If you need to write an extensive paper for a class, start working on it long before the deadline. Always break up your readings and assignments into small tasks you can complete in short study sessions to avoid becoming overwhelmed with work.
You can use countless organisation apps to keep details and reminders of tasks. You can also use a paper planner if writing everything down works best for you.
Remember to schedule breaks as well. As much as keeping up an intense work-study routine is the only way to achieve your goal, it'll be a matter of time until you burn out. Your mind and body need to rest, so take small breaks on weekdays whenever possible and use the weekend to wind down a bit and recharge.
This routine may feel impossible initially, but you will grow used to it and sticking to your schedule gets easier with time.
3. Squeeze in Some Studying Whenever You Can
If you want to increase your productivity, be smart about your time and find ways to study when you usually wouldn't. For example, you can use short breaks during your work day or your commute to review notes.
If you want to get some studying done but can't read at that moment, record voice notes of the subjects you're studying to listen to during workouts or while driving. Pretend you're the teacher - explaining things to yourself helps you process the information and forces you to assimilate it more clearly.
Leaving flashcards around your house and having digitised notes on your phone are also great ways to keep information fresh on your mind during your day. You can review them anywhere, like in the grocery line or waiting for an appointment.
4. Understand Your Tendencies and Use Them to Your Advantage
Knowing yourself and your tendencies is the best path to achieving your best performance.
For some people, studying for one hour in the early morning can be more productive than studying for two in the afternoon. Know what time of the day you are more alert and focused, and use it to your advantage.
When working a full-time job, you won't always have the option to choose to study at the times you prefer, but you can still try to work out strategies to keep yourself focused even when your productivity generally drops.
5. Be Open With Faculty and Employers
Honesty is always the best policy. Your employers and teachers should know about the nature of your work-study situation. If you communicate clearly and prove yourself to be a good employee and student, there's no reason they won't be supportive and helpful when you need it.
Talk with your boss about your work schedule and what level of flexibility is possible. Do the same with your professors and get a clear understanding of what is expected from you in each class.
If your work and study ever do interfere with each other, inform your boss or your teacher immediately. Your transparency will be appreciated.
6. Collaborate With Your Classmates
When you have a study buddy, you can join efforts when studying complex subjects. If you're both available, schedule weekly study sessions (online or in-person) to review the content from the previous week, share notes, and discuss ideas.
Use technology to your advantage: you can set up a shared Google Drive folder to access each other's notes, summaries, and other helpful resources.
You might think your fellow students won't want to share their work, but the truth is that everyone needs help. Most of your classmates would be happy to have a study buddy too.
7. Focus On Your Goals and Celebrate Every Victory
It's common to feel overwhelmed and start questioning your decision when things get too stressful. The pressure from balancing a full-time job and a degree can take you to your breaking point, but in these times, it's important to remind yourself of why you chose to do this and focus on your goals.
Keep your mind trained on the small, achievable tasks you can complete at that moment and don't be too hard on yourself. Every completed assignment, every subject you master, is a victory and should be celebrated. Take some time to reward yourself for everything you have accomplished, and look at how far you've come.
8. Make Time for Yourself and Rest
Some sacrifices will have to be made, but don't give up what's important to you.
Always make some time to be with your family and friends. Maintaining contact with the people who are important to you will help you keep a healthy social life and reduce stress.
Hobbies and sports are also excellent ways of clearing your head after a difficult day and keeping your mind and body healthy. If you feel like you're not studying enough, cut down on social media time or other activities you're not so attached to.
Make a point not to do any school or work-related activities past a specific time and avoid screens before bed. A good, restful night is as essential for your performance as your study hours. Your brain needs to recover, so try to avoid staying up through the night and always get a whole night's sleep.
Now that you've learned how to ace your studies while working, you are ready to start looking for the perfect programme. Remember: keep focused, and good luck!