Balancing College, a Job, and Life in General

By Ember Griffith on October 2, 2012

Everyone who attends college for a semester or more, whether for full- or part-time units, soon finds out exactly how much work it is.  In order to keep a good GPA, grades must be kept up, and for this, students spend countless hours pouring over books, studying flash cards, and doing homework.  School can easily become more than just a part-time commitment, with hours that vary greatly depending on the week and the assignment load.

Why, then, would someone even attempt to hold a part- or full-time job on top of school?

The answer to this question is hard, but simple.  In today’s economy, with tuition going up and funding for students going down, people who want a higher education are put in a tough position.  Student loans, while convenient at the time, create debt, and students are left digging themselves a hole that they know they will have an arduous time climbing back out of.  Even if they have enough student loans to pay for tuition, fees, and textbooks, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they received enough aid to live off of—or that they wanted to dig themselves deeper into debt by accepting all of it.

So many students are left looking for jobs, which, unsurprisingly, are scarce in this economy.  Some find jobs with the University, which sometimes give very few hours because they seem to want to divvy out jobs to as many people as possible, and there just simply aren’t enough hours to go around.  Other students who manage to find good jobs out in the world are faced with another challenge—while they may be making enough money to live by, they can easily find themselves hard pressed for time.

For a college student, time is imperative.  Whether you are a musician practicing hours a week for a performance, a chemistry buff studying for that last grueling test, or an English major finishing off papers, the resulting need is always the same.  Every student, whatever major they have or interest they are pursuing, must find the time to fit in all they need to do for their classes or extracurricular activities around their actual classes.  Throw a part- or full-time job into the mix and you’re looking at someone who could easily have no free time whatsoever, yet is still pulling late nights and early mornings to get everything done.

So how do we balance it all without losing the things that we love, and at the same time remaining sane?

Here are some handy tips to help you:

  1. Stay organized!  Not only should you organize your time and spend it wisely, but if you keep everything in order, you will have an easier time of it.
  2. Make a To-Do list in a priority order.  It’s important to know what you have to do in a day, and even more important to realize that you aren’t always going to get everything done.  Making a list helps you to keep track of the things you have done or still need to do, and prioritizing it can allow you to do everything you need to get done first, leaving the things that can get done another day to wait for later if necessary.
  3. Plan ahead.  If you have time, do things early.  Procrastinating is often a tactic used by college students, and a poor one at that.  Not only does it cause you unnecessary stress, but it usually leads to poorer quality work.  Doing things ahead of time lets you take the time to do it well, and still sometimes have the freedom afterward to do something you actually want to do.  Work before play, no matter how boring or grueling, makes for efficiency… and then you never have to worry about work while you’re playing.
  4. Leave at least one day a week for you.  Outside of the things you have to attend to, such as classes or work, take a day off.  Pay attention to one of your hobbies instead of a paper that can wait and the dirty dishes in the sink.  Sometimes a little breathing room is all you need to feel energized and refreshed.

Now with all that out of the way, it is important to remember that no one is superhuman.  Everyone has their bad days, or gets sick, and it can’t be helped.  Once you’ve realized and accepted that, you’ll feel a lot better.  The people who matter will love you whatever you do, no matter how successful the world thinks you are.  You don’t have to be perfect, so don’t ever put your health last on your list of priorities, and stop to take a breath when you need to.

By Ember Griffith

Uloop Writer
My name is Ember, but you can call me Howl or Wolfie. I am passionate about a lot of things, including writing fiction, reading, drawing, painting, horses, pirates, and werewolves. I'm currently an English major at UC Davis, and I count myself lucky to have so many amazing friends, as well as the best boyfriend a girl could ever ask for. Always remember, We will either find a way or make one. <3

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