What it means to work full time as a full time student

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Melanie Buer
OPINION EDITOR

According to the National Center of Education Statistics, about 7 percent of full-time students were working more than 35 hours per week in 2013. Since first starting college, I have been one of those students.

Even with the helpful boost of student loans, I’m unable to study full-time without an additional job. For awhile, I worked on campus to try and save some of the travel time that it took to get from one place to another to work, but ultimately I couldn’t get enough hours and wasn’t being paid enough to offset my monthly bills.

My education is incredibly important to me and always has been. The problem is that many students who don’t live at home or on-campus and don’t have the luxury of scholarships or other means of income to support themselves need to work more than 20 hours a week. This, in addition to full-time studies, can be hard to accomplish.

I’ve learned over the years that while my schedule may be full, there are things I can do to ensure that I don’t go off the rails with stress. I’ve pulled together a list of things that students can do keep their sanity during the school year.

1. Know how much you owe

Before the semester starts, students should sit down and take a look at their finances. Determine how much the monthly bills are going to be for the next 6 months, create a budget and stick to it. Make sure to budget in fun things like dinners out, Netflix nights and the occasional bar tab.

By knowing how much (even if it’s a general amount) they’ll be spending each month, students will be able to better plan their work schedule. When I did this, I found that I could work less hours at my job and still make my monthly payments.

2. Work around school, not school around work

For the first two years of college, I would choose the classes that fit best around my work schedule. I thought that by setting up my scheduling this way, I would be making sure that my bills got paid. It ended up being more of a headache than not.

The faster students finish college, the better off they’ll be. Choose classes first and work around that schedule. By doing so, students are putting their studies first, and it’ll help them prioritize what’s important in their life. Why waste the money on university classes if they’re constantly being put on the back burner?

3. Set a daily schedule, and get stuff done

Use a planner to keep track of everything that needs to be done on a daily basis. Be sure to write in study times, any sport practices or club meetings and work schedule. Knowing how much time I had to get things done helped keep me focused and organized. It was particularly helpful when I would turn in assignments or get my reading done on time – the stress of playing catch-up became non-existent.

4. Don’t forget to relax

The times when I found myself to be the most stressed about the chaotic things going on in my life were usually the times when I didn’t set aside a day or an afternoon to just decompress. I got so caught up in trying to doing everything all at once that I forgot to take care of myself. In the interest of not burning out prematurely, students should set aside quality time to relax on a regular basis.

The full-time-student-with-a-full-time-job life can be pretty rough. Many times it makes you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Hopefully these suggestions can help out anyone feeling a little crazy in the midst of the chaos of their semester.

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