It’s a dilemma that 57% of all students face - how can I strike a balance between working and studying? For many students at secondary school, working part-time provides a much needed income to socialise with friends and pay for ongoing expenses like travel.
According to UCAS, most colleges recommend that students work less than 15 hours per week to ensure they stay on top of their studies. But is this 15 hours per week too much? In this post, we share some of our wisdom on how to strike a healthy work/study balance.
First of All, Do you Actually Need a Job?
As a student, it’s important to ask yourself whether you are working because you actually need the money or whether you’re doing it for other reasons. Some students feel compelled to get part-time jobs because all their friends work and they don’t want to feel that they’re missing out on something.
Or perhaps you’re working in order to give yourself a good grounding for a future career after you finish secondary school? If this is the case, then good on you for having the foresight to start building your experience, but if you’re still only in Year 11 or 12, are you thinking about your career too much, too soon?
We recommend that students take the time to really look at their financial situation. How much money do you have readily available from your parents and savings and is it enough to see you through a school term? If so, then a better option would be to work during your holidays rather than during term time. As long as you make enquiries early, there are plenty of places that actively look for students to take on seasonal work during holiday periods.
When do you Study Best?
At what times and on what days are you most productive when it comes to studying? If you find that inspiration strikes every Thursday evening at 8pm, then you definitely don’t want to be working then. Ideally, your working hours should be based around your studying, not the other way round.
Far too many students accept inflexible part-time work with strict working hours and unrealistic staff expectations.
And many students think that this type of work is the norm.
Well, let us tell you that there are many employers out there who are sensitive to the needs of students who you’d be far better off working for. This might be easier said than done, but it’s important that you find an employer who understands your situation and is empathetic to your circumstances.
Improve your Time Management Skills
Perhaps the problem isn’t your employer at all? Dare we say that just maybe, the problem lies with your approach to time management? If so, there’s no shame in that. Even the best of us complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day.
One way to strike a better study/work balance is to focus on managing your time better. We recommend always having a timetable of your classes and studying time close by, so that when you’re asked to work a few extra hours, you’re able to make an informed decision about whether to say ‘yes’ or not.
Keeping a diary of all your appointments and study plans is also a good idea, so you can better arrange your working hours around your study commitments. Better still, use the calendar on your mobile to map out all your engagements and plans, so that you have all the information you need to make a good decision at your fingertips.
Make your Studying Count
When you do have the time to study, it’s important that you use it productively. When you’re working part-time as a student, it’s important more than ever to be organised. This means knowing exactly what day and at what time assignments are due, what your homework deadlines are and most importantly, when your exams are.
If you’re able to get some perspective on the bigger picture, you can adjust your approach to studying to ensure you’re being as productive as possible.
When you’re working and studying, it’s important to ensure that you’re studying the right things and that they will actually benefit you with your assignments and exams. If you’re unsure about any aspect of your studying, then you should speak to your teachers, so you know for sure that you’re focusing on the right thing.
Are you currently working while you study? How do you achieve a work/study balance?
Image credit - https://www.flickr.com/photos/danisabella/3967606805