10 Secrets to Balancing College with a Full-Time Job

If you’re trying to juggle college with full-time employment, it can feel like it’s just you against the clock, 24/7. However, a 2015 study by researchers at Georgetown University, “Learning While Earning: The New Normal,” found that over the last 25 years, more than 70 percent of college students, or 14 million individuals, were working while enrolled. So you’re not alone. Other significant findings include:

  • Twenty-five percent of all working learners are simultaneously employed full-time and enrolled in college full-time.
  • About 40 percent of undergraduates and 76 percent of graduate students work at least 30 hours a week.
  • One-third of working learners are 30 or older.
  • Sixty percent of working learners are women.
  • Nineteen percent have children.

How did these 14 million students manage to balance studies, work, extracurricular activities, family obligations, and other life priorities? Here’s their secret … actually, 10 of them.

1) Find a flexible job that doesn’t drain you.

Make the most of every hour in your week by building your work schedule around your classes. If you’ve got evenings free, dedicate those to earning money. Choose something that won’t require all of your mental and emotional energy so you’re not tapped out during school hours.

2) Work on campus.

Finding on-campus work is a great way to do away with commutes and make the most of your time, and there are usually plenty of options for interested students. Does a professor need a research assistant? Check out your college’s career center for possible opportunities in technology support, retail services, events management, and lab assistance.

3) Turn your manager and co-workers into allies.

Let the people you work for and with know that school is your priority, but you are also committed to being an excellent employee. They are far more likely to be understanding about letting you leave early or come in late when school demands require it.

4) Optimize your tuition money.

Research programs and outcomes prior to committing to a specific school to ensure you’re getting the best value for your buck. Explore grants and scholarships that might be available to help subsidize your education so you can work less.

5) Follow your passion.

Try to get a job that’s related to your major. If you’re studying Early Childhood Education, look for work as a nanny. You’ll be making money doing what you love at the same time you’re gaining valuable experience in your chosen field. This might make post-graduation employment even more lucrative.

6) Ask for help.

Let family and friends know that most of your time is going to be devoted to work and school for a few years. Solicit their support if you need help with childcare, meal prep, household chores, or errand running. Share your aspirations and goals with them so they feel invested in your success.

7) Manage your time.

Create and stick to a strict schedule. Allocate blocks of time on a weekly and/or monthly basis to everything that needs your attention. This helps avoid procrastination, builds self-discipline and mastery, and lets you make the most efficient use of every hour.

8) Schedule down time.

Plan your free time as intentionally as you plan your work, family, and study time. Whether it’s TV with the kids, softball games with friends, dinner dates with a partner, or an hour-long bubble bath on Sundays, put it on the calendar and make it happen.

9) Keep your eyes on the prize.

Remind yourself daily why you’re working so hard right now. Post images that relate to your chosen career near your study station, keep a journal of your daily victories, or do guided meditations that find the future you engaging in your dream career confidently and competently.

10) Explore online courses.

Perhaps the best way to optimize your work-study balance is to enroll in online courses. This unique learning experience lets you take advantage of the latest technologies and techniques to get ahead in your career while providing the time and scheduling flexibility you need. For millions of students, it’s a much less stressful way to complete coursework and earn your degree.

Additional Resources:
5 Key Things to Know Before Taking Online Classes

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