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For generations, countless college students have worked part-time or full-time while pursuing a degree. Beyond earning a paycheck, the benefits of working while completing rigorous coursework are abundant and can typically boost your future earning potential and put you ahead of the competition.

Of course, there’s always a fine line to balance, as juggling school with full- or part-time work can be challenging and present scheduling conflicts and not provide students with enough downtime, thereby putting the balancing act out of reach.

How to Find the Perfect Work/School/Life Balance

Then again, everyone’s financial considerations are different, and working long hours can often be a necessity for some students to continue paying tuition.

If this is the case, how can students better balance the demands of their work, academic, and personal lives to ensure their success in each area? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

how can students better balance the demands of their work, academic, and personal lives to ensure their success in each area? Here are a few tips to keep in mind

Talk to Your Manager About Your Goals

Suppose you find yourself working in a busy, stressful environment while also having to carve out time to complete homework and study for exams. In that case, it’s not difficult to see how this could overwhelm even the most level-headed person. Indeed, these factors are key reasons why some working students decide to drop out. Don’t be that person.

First, try to find work that provides a good work/school/life balance. If that’s not within reach, sit down with your manager to discuss your desire to attend school while working full- or part-time. Once your manager knows — and can appreciate — your situation, they’ll not only be able to put themselves in your shoes. Still, they may also be able to modify your work schedule to accommodate your school commitments.

Look for Jobs Relevant to Your Career Path

If your job and degree program are in vastly different fields during college, it can be challenging to switch your attention from one to the other. Having to “turn off” your academic mind and “turn on” your work one (or vice versa) to give each commitment your full attention can take some time to balance.

For this reason, it can be helpful if you’re able to find employment that overlaps with your coursework in terms of subject matter. Case in point: If you’re studying cybersecurity and pursuing an online technology degree — and then applying that knowledge in your job — there will be less conflict between the two areas.

Create a Schedule and Stick to It

Solid time management is critical to excel in both your coursework and job. Don’t rely on your memory to plan and remember all your commitments; instead, invest in a planner or calendar and jot down your homework due dates, work schedule, study opportunities, and exam dates.

By having all this information on hand, you’ll know how to utilize your time best and feel more prepared every day. This also means you can schedule your social life to revolve around these commitments. 

Similarly, by knowing when you’ll be busiest, you’ll know when to turn down invitations to social events and other occasions due to their impact on your work and studies.

Learn Stress Management Techniques

When coping with the combined pressures of work, studying, and maintaining a social life, it’s almost a given there will be times when your stress levels rise. Thankfully, there are various effective methods you can use to reduce the amount of stress you experience and to approach each of your tasks with a calmer, clearer, and more productive mindset.

Breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, and exercise should all prove helpful in fostering a relaxed and positive state of being that allows you to handle challenges with greater confidence. Try out various these activities and see which ones work best for you.

Benefitting From a Better Balance

For many students, while holding down a job and pursuing a degree offers a host of benefits beyond earning a paycheck, others may struggle to manage these competing demands effectively. However, by following these tips, you can feel better equipped to balance these areas of your day-to-day life. 

Not only can this save you from experiencing unnecessary stress, but by ensuring both your academic and work lives are in sync, you can decrease the chance of having to abandon one area to prioritize the other.

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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