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Balancing School & Work: Tips for College Freshmen

How to Balance School and Work

Starting college is hard. Starting college while working a job is harder. Prioritizing can be complicated—if you don’t work, you can’t afford to go to school, and if you don’t get good grades, you could lose your chance of earning a degree. The good news is that, while balancing work and college is hard, it’s not impossible. Use the following tips to make it through with your grades, your income, and your sanity intact.

Step 1: Get a planning tool. 

Start by creating a weekly schedule for yourself. There are plenty of free online planner apps that you can use to keep track of your classes, work schedule, and assignment due dates.

One popular option is MyStudyLife, a cross-platform day planner designed for students. It’s free on iOS and Android, has an extension for Chrome, and allows you to access your content offline. It even lets you set up to-do lists and sends you reminders so you don’t miss any deadlines.

If you don’t want to use a new app, that’s fine too—Google Calendar is free and, because it uses your Google account, you can access it on your school’s computers if you don’t have one of your own. You can also use an old-fashioned paper day planner if that’s more your style.

Step 2: Plan your day, week, and semester.  

A planner won’t do you any good if you don’t use it, so set up your schedule as soon as you have it. Fill in your class schedule all the way through the semester and add in your work hours as soon as you have them. Then schedule some time for homework. If you can, try to allow some extra time in case an assignment takes you longer than you’d planned.

Make sure you block in 8 and a half hours of sleep every night. Try not to compromise on this any more than you have to. A lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, causing you to get sick more easily, which obviously leads to missed classes and sick days at work.

Step 3: Reduce stress.  

Stress is normal when you’re balancing work and school, but it also makes you less effective in both settings. Think about what relaxes you and takes your mind off of things. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or even cost anything. You can try:

  • Meditation (There are lots of free meditation apps and YouTube videos out there.)
  • Breathing exercises
  • Walking around the block
  • Adult coloring pages (Seriously, Google “free adult coloring printouts” and you’ll find more than you could ever color)

Make sure that exercise is a part of your routine, too. It’s proven to help manage stress, and it releases endorphins that make you feel happy. If you’ve had a hard shift at work or are struggling to finish a paper, taking time to play basketball with friends or go for a run in the park can give you the boost you need to get the job done. 

Talk to your Fulfillment Fund Las Vegas advisor if you need help planning your schedule or finding a school. We are here to help you succeed in higher education and life.