The Ultimate Balancing Act: How to Handle Being a Full-Time Student with a Part-Time Job

It’s August, which means it’s back to school for many of you! In our last Blog we discussed 7 Benefits of Working in the Restaurant Industry, one of them being it offers its employees flexible working hours. Because of this, many younger restaurant employees are also enrolled in school. A study conducted by The National Restaurant Association shows 89% of workers under the age of 18 and 45% of workers between the ages of 18-24 are also enrolled in school. With the staggering cost of college tuition – the College Board says on average tuition was $9,000 for state and $23,000 for out-of-state residents at public colleges for the 2104-2015 school year – it’s no surprise that many students are forced to pull out their own wallets and get to work to pay up.

Juggling homework, work, and maintaining somewhat of a social life can be overwhelming, and make you feel like you are part of a 3-ring circus. Here are some helpful tips to keep you balanced through this next school year!

  • Let your employer know you’re a student. Many restaurants are willing to work with flexible schedules, and chances are they already have students on their staff. This means they are more understanding as far as scheduling goes – especially when it comes to finals week. If you are able to, it’s good to have a set schedule in the days and times you work, that way you can plan your other schedules accordingly.
  • Be assertive with your schedule needs. I made the mistake of being a pushover at my first college job, which landed me 35 hours a week on the schedule. Trying to balance that many working hours as well as a full-time school schedule just wasn’t possible. What sacrificed? My schoolwork, and I was put on academic probation (which followed me to the end of my college days). Learn from my mistake and be assertive with your needs – speak up if you are being given too many hours, or keep your work schedule to under 20 hours a week.
  • Plan ahead. Scan your syllabus for important dates, like when papers are due and the dates of quizzes and tests. Oftentimes – especially if you are going to school full-time – you will have a few due on the same day and/ or week. This means you will need to plan out weeks in advance to account for the workload. Creating a calendar for the semester is a great way to map it all out visually and keep you on track. Be sure to post your calendar somewhere in your household where your family members can see it to avoid them planning an event when you’re not available.
  • Build a flexible schedule. Some parts of your schedule are going to be set-in-stone, such as your classes and if possible, your work schedule. But your study times will vary week-to-week. It’s best to try and create a routine you can stick to, but are able to adjust if other things come up. As a working student, you will need to adapt and be prepared for new assignments and unexpected errands. Be sure to block off enough time in your schedule to study, that way if something unexpected pops up you can study another time that is already on your schedule.
  • Create daily and weekly “To-Do” lists. Personally, I’m a “To-Do” list admirer, everything from grocery shopping to packing, it all goes down on a list to help keep me organized. Writing out your daily and weekly tasks will help you keep track of what you have accomplished and what you still need to get done.
  • Plan out your academic path. Sit down with an Academic Advisor and discuss the classes you are required to take for your major. Sometimes (and I wish someone would have told me this sooner), a required class is only available one or two times per week, and they are at most unreasonable times — like a Wednesday from 4:00pm to 6:15pm. If you don’t take it this semester, you may get behind the next one. Your Academic Advisor will be able to map out these required classes, so you can plan your other schedules accordingly.
  • Set time aside for your family. As you fill-in your schedule, be sure to include time for your family and family obligations, like birthday parties and barbeques.
  • Schedule weekend time with friends. You’ll quickly notice between school, work, and family time, your social life kind of goes out the window. But it doesn’t have to. You’ll want to maintain your friendships, and just like anything else, you will need to schedule the time to do so. At the beginning of the week schedule time with your friends to hangout that following weekend.
  • Pencil in “Me” time. To avoid stress overload and a total burnout, it’s important to make sure to plan for yourself – even if it’s just an hour at the gym or a half an hour reading. Make time to keep yourself healthy and happy.
  • The jobs you hold in college are just an important in shaping your professional career as the classes you take. Keep this in mind through the constant juggling – you’ll thank yourself later down the line for balancing it all!

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