Are you working to help pay for groceries, gas and rent? What about fulfilling that internship requirement for your major? If you’re working a part-time job (or two) while in college, you’re not alone. Earlier this year, a U.S. Census report revealed that 71 percent of the nation’s 19.7 million college undergraduates were working in 2011.
Last year I was working an on-campus job, as well as serving at a restaurant in downtown Kent before I started interning at AKHIA. I was also involved in two outside organizations and taking 15 credit hours—a full course load. Although it can be a challenge, it is possible to do it all and still get good grades. Here are some of the strategies I’ve used to stay focused and accomplish the (im)possible.
1. School comes first
You need to always remember this. My parents made sure to drill this into my brain when I would call them and gripe about how stressed out I was. They would say, “Remember, you are there for school, not for a part-time job. Focus on your classes.” They were right. If I blew off school to work, I was only hurting myself.
With that being said, make sure your employer understands you’re a student. I would highly recommend searching for an on-campus job. The hours are usually doable, and often times the employers are flexible and work with your class schedule.
2. Buy a planner and look at it daily
I’m not just saying this because I’m an organization freak; I truly think owning a planner helps in the long run. Typically, I take a look at my class’s syllabus and write down every important due date the first week of class. This way, you know in advance when projects and papers are going to be due. Doing this prevents you from getting slapped with a project you weren’t expecting. If you’re constantly conscious of deadlines, you can avoid pulling those dreadful all-nighters.
3. Utilize the weekends I’m not saying you need to spend every waking moment of your weekend on homework, but this is a great time to get things done. I usually spend about two to four hours on a Saturday and about four to six hours on a Sunday on school work. It might sound like a lot, but I promise you will still have time to hang out with your friends, go grocery shopping and relax. And you’ll feel a lot better come Monday when you’re not overwhelmed by the to-do’s you still have on your list.
4. Manage your stress Whether this is cooking, online shopping, taking a bubble bath or doing yoga, find a stress reliever. Do something each day where you can escape for at least 30 minutes. Use this time to just let go for a little bit, and you’ll come back with a clear mind.
5. Know your limits Don’t let yourself drown if you can’t handle it. This will only lead to stress and possibly poor grades. Maybe there’s a class that’s more time consuming than you initially thought—that’s OK. Take a step back. Ask for fewer hours at your job. Just make sure you know when to slow down. You can do it all, but you need to know when you have bitten off more than you can chew.
What are your strategies for time management?