5 ways to work in college without exhausting yourself
There is no fun way to talk about student loans. I know because I tried. Let me know if you find a fun way to talk about estimating 5.2 million federal student loans borrowers in default, 3.4 million in deferment and 2.7 million in abstention.
Average fees at a private university for 2019-2020 were $ 36,880 – and that’s before you factor in accommodation, textbooks, and other living expenses. This is why so many students have to take out student loans to pay for their studies. And why today, more than ever, it makes sense to work while studying.
It is not easy to have a full time job and take your courses. But it does offer a number of advantages, including the ability to put what you learn into practice. And maybe the biggest benefit is that you’ll graduate with less student loan debt, either through tuition assistance, paying for classes as you go, or a combination of both.
My husband and I were married young (as in, crazy young). We both knew we wanted a college education, so we didn’t let little things like a mortgage, an unexpected baby, or jobs keep us from getting a degree. The truth is, we wanted it so badly that nothing was going to get in our way. And that may be the key.
1. Make sure you want it
If you are going to work in college without exhausting yourself, you must want it, more than you want anything else. It is this passion that will help you find the satisfaction of studying when you are exhausted. This passion will give you hope when your schedule gets over you.
My husband and I were fueled by a fire in our bellies. My husband wanted to live a dream he had never shared with anyone, a dream that started with education. I wanted to live up to the expectations of the family and have the opportunity to become a writer at a time when I needed a degree to do so.
2. Find out what your employer will do for you
A 2017 WorldatWork survey showed that 85% of employers offer some form of tuition reimbursement. Before registering for the school, contact your company’s human resources department to find out about your company’s offers. If you work for a company that does not offer tuition reimbursement, you may want to look for a job with a company that does. Yes, it is a chore, and yes, you will have to adjust to a new work situation, but tuition assistance is basically extra paycheck that will ease your financial burden.
My husband’s employer was also kind enough to let him change shifts in order to attend the courses he needed. Find out how flexible your employer will be – they might even allow time off to study for big events like mid-term.
3. Make sleep part of the game plan
You know all those movies and TV shows that show carefree college students drifting from one wild party to another? It will not be your experience.
If you have a full-time job while you are in college, you will need to get up in the morning and study or go to work. You will also need to allow time for sleep, because frankly, it is almost impossible to work, go to class and take on your other responsibilities without it.
The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night, according to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. While there is a rare gene that allows 3% of the population to function well on six hours of sleep a night, the rest of us need more vigilance.
Regular sleep is vital because while you sleep your brain oversees biological maintenance and keeps you healthy. Sleep also helps maintain emotional balance, which is especially important if you want to avoid burnout.
4. Don’t do it
Start by taking fewer classes than you think you can handle. Remember Aesop’s fable The tortoise and the hare? You are the turtle here. Slowly but surely, we are succeeding. Why go to burnout? If after your first semester you find that you have passed all work / school, add more to your schedule the following semester.
Winston Churchill once said: “Perfection is the enemy of progress. You don’t strive to be perfect as you progress through school; you are looking to learn as much as possible while keeping your job.
I don’t remember cleaning my house once in my last few years in college. I’m sure I did, but it was at the bottom of my priority list as I needed to focus on my studies. I got off the hook, and you should too. I promise you this: there will be more time for dusting and vacuuming after graduation.
5. Planning is your friend
You can’t predict all of the minor issues that will crop up in a week, which makes planning vital so you don’t let the important things slip away. Your schedule should include:
- Working hours
- Class hours
- Study time
- To sleep
- Fun time and exercise – it may not seem so spontaneous, but you need to make time to do the things you love
- Meal prep time – the healthier you eat, the better you will feel
Whether you prefer an old-fashioned paper planner or have an app on your phone, your schedule should be your roadmap. Build in flexibility (for example, plan to turn a journal a few days early) so you’re always on track even if life gets in your way.
There is nothing easy to find your way to college, but there is nothing like it either. If you ever start to feel exhausted, know this: One day you will look back and be incredibly proud of your achievement – and you deserve to be.