For many college students, work is a necessity. After all, on average, parents only pay 27 percent of their kids' tuition these days. Thus, in 2011, 71 percent of American undergraduates had jobs, and about 20 percent of those students spent 35 hours or more each week at work.
If you're working or will be working during your university years, fear not. The following pieces of advice should help you to get good grades, enjoy an active social life, and still be a valuable employee.
Find a Meaningful Job
Sure, any job can occasionally be tedious or unpleasant. However, if you land a position that's fun or at least stimulating most of the time, your hours at work will fly by. Plus, you'll boost your overall levels of energy and happiness. Even more important, if you can find employment in the industry that you'd like to enter after graduation, you could make lasting professional connections. Eventually, you might even be able to earn some college credits from the work that you do.
With that in mind, it makes sense to search the Internet for exciting opportunities near your campus and to get assistance from your school's office of career counseling. Take your time, and cast a wide net so that you won't have to settle for a job that's less than satisfying.
Increase Your Work Hours Incrementally
It's beneficial to build up your work schedule little by little rather than committing to, say, 15 hours a week right from the start. Perhaps the wisest course of action is to completely avoid working during the first half of your freshman year. That way, you can get acclimated to college academics. Indeed, your courses will probably involve more reading and studying than you've ever done before. Then, if possible, during your second semester, try to work just a few hours per week.
By your third or fourth semester, you'll likely be ready to take on a schedule that involves 12 or more hours of work each week. At that point, you'll have a good sense of how to juggle your job, your studies, and your socializing. At the same time, if you work more than 15 hours every week, your grades or some other aspect of your life will probably suffer. Therefore, try to set a 15-hour â or, if you must, a 20-hour â weekly work limit.
Plan Your Time Carefully
If you find it useful, draw up a schedule for yourself each Sunday afternoon, one that details everything that you need to accomplish over the course of the following six days. Whether you create this agenda on a piece of paper or on your smartphone, you should note all of the tests, assignment due dates, work hours, and social events that are coming up. Afterwards, stick to your schedule diligently, and always fight the urge to procrastinate.
Another trick is to do two things at once as often as you can. For instance, invite your friends to study sessions in your dorm or apartment. That way, you can catch up with one another and prepare for exams simultaneously. Likewise, exercise with your significant other so that you can both stay fit while spending quality time together. If you take a train or a bus to work, read as you ride. If you're allowed to bring food to your workplace, eat meals there to save time when you return to campus. After a while, you'll find all kinds of other ways to combine tasks.