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Balancing Work & College

For many college students, it won’t be the intense new classes they’ll be taking once they set foot on campus at their intended college that will be the hardest transition to handle, but finding the time to make some money to pay for those expensive textbooks or college expenses – and a social life – that don’t come out of tuition fees. Whether your financial aid package included several hours of work study per week or you found an outside job full- or part-time to pay for those college expenses, it isn’t easy to master the art of time management when balancing work and college.

Balance & Sacrifice

For many students, the advantages of balancing work and college outweigh the stress and sacrifice that may come with keeping to a tight schedule and potentially tighter budget. Apart from earning money to lower your potential student loan debt and be able to feel less guilty about ordering out once in a while, you’ll learn earlier than most the responsibilities that come with being an adult. If you’re lucky enough to find a job that has ties in to your major, you could get a leg up on the rest of your class once you graduate because you’ll have more experience in your chosen field. If the job really is a typical college job – waitressing, working at a retail store, and stacking shelves at the campus bookstore – you’ll still be building a skill set that will come in handy post-college.

Explore Your Options

You don’t need to work in your school’s library or computer labs to make money and have a flexible enough schedule to balance work and college. Consider off-campus options like product promotion and retail sales when applying for jobs, as many businesses and organizations – especially in college towns – make up their employee bases with college students from the nearby school. Employers in those communities will be more lenient about college “excuses” like exams and final projects, and will offer options as far as flexible shifts. You probably won’t get rich from an off-campus job, but the wages could be enough to keep you from taking out student loans for the cost of living expenses that have nothing to do with tuition, like transportation, housing and entertainment costs that can quickly increase your student loan debt load.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure the reason you’re in college – to get a degree – doesn’t fall by the wayside because you’re putting in more hours at that retailer or pizza shop. Take control of your schedule and factor in that study time so you’re not panicking when finals come around. Go to your classes, pay attention to deadlines and make a positive impression on your instructors so that if you do come into class late one day because the relief shift was late at your job, you’ll minimize your chances of hurting your grade for that class. Browse through our tips for balancing work and college to better prepare yourself for life after college and understand all of your options before getting on campus.

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