How to Balance Working and Going to School

Posted on November 11, 2021

Juggling working and going to school can sometimes be a complicated, stressful process. It is even harder for students with other commitments like parenting. However, with a lot of effort, good balance, and dedication, it is possible and rewarding to work while you’re still going to school.

Before looking at helpful tips on how to balance working and going to school, let’s look at the many benefits it provides for students. Here are some of the top reasons you should consider working while still in school.

The Benefits of Working and Going to School

1. Earn money

First and foremost, working while attending school allows you to earn money. Whether your tuition is fully taken care of or not, earning extra money while you’re still studying will give you some extra financial flexibility. 

It’s always good to have extra money to pay bills and cover any unexpected expenses that might come up. It also gives students the ability to start paying off their student loans before they even graduate, something that could save thousands of dollars in the long run.

At Penn-Mar Human Services, we even offer tuition reimbursement for students who work while taking college, graduate, or continuing education courses. Many companies have similar programs that can help you pay for school.

2. Learn soft skills

Attending college is a crucial way to learn hard skills that are important in the particular field you are interested in. While these skills are vital to your future career, soft skills like communication, time management, cooperation, and interpersonal skills will be equally significant.

Working and going to school gives you an excellent opportunity to gain both hard and soft skills. Skills like time management develop as students try to balance work and learning, and they will be critical to landing jobs in the future.

3. Improved academic performance

As students juggle between working and going to school, they acquire better time management, organization, and communication skills that help them stay on track and keep their priorities in order. Working while in school also limits the time students have to procrastinate, so they spend more of their free time studying, which can translate to higher grades and better overall academic performance.

4. Networking

Working while going to school also provides students with the opportunity to meet people outside of their fellow classmates and professors. This is very beneficial, as it allows them to network and make contacts that could potentially help them land a job after they graduate. Some of these professional connections might even become future employers.

5. Real-world work experience

Students who work their way through college exhibit responsibility and independence, which employers are always looking for as they hire for open positions. In the job market, students who already have real-world work experience from being employed in college are well ahead of their peers. 

Going to school and working may seem difficult at first, but it is a decision that is well worth making. As a student, real-job experiences are a must-have and will set you up for success after you graduate. So, what are some characteristics that make an ideal job for students?

What to Consider When Looking for Ideal Jobs for Students

As mentioned earlier, working as a student can be difficult and present many obstacles. However, there are certain jobs and characteristics of workplaces that will help students be successful as they balance work and school. Here are some things to look for and consider when working and going to school.

1. Flexibility

Before signing a job contract, make sure you know the flexibility of the position beforehand. Some jobs have tight schedules that can’t be altered and may not be the right choice for students. Students should look for a job that fits their busy schedule and doesn’t interfere with their schoolwork. But, it’s also important to have a flexible employer in case something urgent comes up.

2. Wages

As a student, you need money to pay for your rent, tuition, meals, and books. While you most likely won’t be making a ton of money, it’s important to search for a job that pays well and is worth your time. Otherwise, you are wasting valuable time that could be spent studying or enjoying life on campus and not getting much in return.

3. Field of interest

Ideally, a student should look to work in a field relevant to the degree they are pursuing. For instance, a student pursuing a degree in hospitality and hotel management may consider working in a hotel. However, working in a field that is not directly related to your major is also beneficial as it gives you a chance to get job experience and gain soft skills like communication.

4. Support

Students strive to strike a balance between going to school and working, but it can be hard at times. It’s important for students to create time for self-care. Having a tight schedule doesn’t mean neglecting yourself and your needs. Time to relax and have fun amid your busy schedule is essential.  

That’s why you should search for an employer who will support you, your dreams, and the things you want to do. Receiving support from your workplace and colleagues will help as you balance your busy lifestyle. Everyone needs help sometimes, so it’s important to find an employer who cares about your needs and will help you if things get difficult.

Tips for Balancing Work and School

Not everyone can strike a balance between going to school and working. But, there are some helpful tips that can help students do it successfully.

1. Make a plan

Planning is key for students striving to create a balance between work and school. Making a plan and scheduling your days will help to ensure that you stay on top of all of your commitments and are successful both at work and at school. Part of your long-term plan should include how long you intend to remain employed in your particular position. This way, you can be honest with your employer and you can keep sight of what you’re working toward.

2. Dedicate a space in your home for studying

Another useful tip for balancing work and school is to dedicate a space in your home only for studying. Even if you live in a dorm room, dedicate one corner of the room as your study corner. This will help you focus and get into the right state of mind whenever you go to that area to study.

It’s also important to be away from distractions like TVs and other people. If you can’t avoid some things, consider getting noise-cancelling headphones that will allow you to block everything else out and focus on your schoolwork.

3. Organize, schedule, communicate

As mentioned earlier, being organized, scheduling, and communicating will be critical as you work and go to school. You should maintain good communication with your professors at school and your boss at work, and always let them know right away if an issue arises. There are many different tools you can use—like planners, apps, and computer programs—that can help you organize all of your important information, schedule out your days, and communicate with others.

4. Take care of yourself

It’s also essential that you take care of yourself and your body. You should be getting plenty of sleep, eating healthily, and being physically active in order to keep your body and mind healthy. Sometimes it can be difficult to try and fit everything into one day, so you should always do what’s best for you. You should also look into stress-reducing exercises for when things feel like too much and talk to others about how you feel. Your mental and physical are the most important things and you should treat them that way.

5. Ask for help

If you’re struggling, be honest and ask for help. You won’t always be able to do everything you want to when working and going to school. If things get too hard, tell your boss, coworkers, or professors. Asking for help is often the best thing you can do because others can’t always tell when someone is struggling. This will help you figure out solutions to make the situation better.

Striking a balance between work and school is a challenge. However, it is possible to balance the two if students learn proper planning and master their time management skills. At Penn-Mar, we offer many flexible positions perfect for students looking to work as they continue their studies.

Our mission is to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to live courageous lives full of self-determination, independence, and equity. Our approach is innovative, person-centered, and successful. Through meaningful employment, community inclusion, and residential choice, the people Penn-Mar supports are empowered to live their best lives. If you’re interested in a human resources career and want to make a difference in the lives of others, consider filling out an application to join our team! You can also get involved by learning more about our services, making a donation, or signing up to volunteer with us today!