How To: Balance School and A Job

Clint Heinze--Kris Corso feels the pressure of juggling academics and a career.

In this economy, it has gotten harder to pay for school. Some students even consider going to a community college in order to save for a four-year school.

A growing trend exists; students at four-year universities are getting jobs more often. Many are finding it hard to balance work with classes. Balancing work and school is no harder than balancing work and a sport; all it takes is time management. Here are a few tips to help.

Get a Planner
It may seem funny that a planner is really all you need but, in fact, a planner is your life once you start working and going to school. It allows you to visualize exactly when you have a significant block of time to work, allows you to set aside time to get homework done and reminds you when to attend classes.

A well organized planner gives you the chance to keep yourself in check and see when you may have to pull an all-nighter or tell your manager you are not able to work on a specific day. Having a job is something you have to be responsible with; you cannot miss a day because something better comes up. Moves like that are a great way to get fired.

Planners allow you to responsibly look at your life and see what you have to do. Ask anyone who has a job and goes to school and they will say that planners become your life.

Clump your
Classes Having your classes altogether works best for jobs that are off-campus. Managers prefer to schedule employees for at least four hours at a time. This is simply because the state mandates that you get a paid break with every shift. If you only work two hours it seems pointless to have to pay you for an eighth of the shift you are not working. Managers often are not flexible with your schedule. They want you to work with them. By clumping your classes together, you open yourself up to have the ability to work for more hours every week.

Putting your classes together also lets you feel like you have more time in the day. You feel like you are productively using the time before and after classes, instead of wasting valuable time.

Be Flexible
Managers will work with you a lot one week and the next week barely work you at all. It is not that they do not like you; they just did not need you as much that week for one reason or another. Also, managers do not really care if you hate closing. If that is all your availability allows for, they will work you for that shift.

The one thing that most people hate about having a job while in school is the fact that they begin to not have a social life. However, you get used to not being able to go out every time your friends go out. Obligations to work do come first for those who are serious about having a job. You may not want to make it your lifelong career but if you work hard, a good recommendation will help you get that job you really want in the future.

Off-Campus vs. On-Campus Jobs
One of the nicest aspects of going to a four-year university is having the ability to get an on-campus job. However, there are a few drawbacks. First, you tend to get less hours per week. This is good for someone who really just needs a job to pay for the occasional movie or such but not so good for the person who is paying for their entire tuition.

My suggestion for people in the latter group is to stick to an off-campus job. They may be a little bit harder to get but if you have the right personality and have a connection; you will be able to work much more. Most off- campus jobs will work you as much as 32 hours per week.

Also, some on-campus jobs only pay $8 an hour but an off-campus job can pay more. For example, a job at In-N-Out starts at $10 an hour. This is significantly more per hour. An on-campus job also allows you the option to be a part of the work-study program. This is when the state pays half of your pay and the employer pays the other half, making you more marketable to employers on-campus because they are spending less money.

Lastly, some on-campus jobs allow you to work while having the benefit of seeing your friends.

Off-campus jobs do not tolerate visits from friends or employees working on anything other than what you are being paid to do.

Usually these activities can only be accomplished on breaks and lunches.

It is not impossible to go to school full-time and have a job as well but it does take a little bit of responsibility and a lot of time management.

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