There is no substitute for hard work.
-Thomas A. Edison
Working while in college gives you a different perspective on the college experience. Ranging from friends to classes to jobs, all working students will understand how difficult it can get. Throughout college, you get to know all the ways that students finance their education. Some, like me, work numerous jobs on top of going to school full-time. Some have a part-time job, others do miscellaneous work from time to time, and there are those who don't work and/or have never worked a day in their life. When faced with having friends who have an unlimited amount of time to do whatever they want to do outside of their class and homework time, us working folk have a time-management dilemma. These five basic, working college student problems highlight issues that we are faced with every day:
Having a set work schedule every week doesn't leave much room for spontaneous trips, or even random coffee dates with friends who don't have that commitment. Even friends who share the same problem, who have committed schedules for work, find difficulty in finding time to share with you amongst other friends because of conflicting work schedules. The only way you ever really have free time to spend with friends is when you take a weekend off of work in order to take a break and relax with the friends you hardly get to see.
Sleep is nonexistent to working college students. I can't remember a night I went to bed before 3 a.m. Nights are long and mornings are dreaded. The only time we ever get any kind of rest is on the weekends and even then it’s possible that we might have an early morning shift. When we get home we still have to work on homework, and if it doesn't take hours to finish then maybe we’ll have time to go out with some friends later that night. The question then would be, would we rather catch up on much needed sleep or have some fun and test ourselves on how much longer we can last through our sleep-deprived days?
3. Morning Classes
Morning classes are not your friend. If I get off work at 12 a.m., get home in time to finish my homework due the next day by 2 a.m., take my shower, hop in bed, and fall asleep by 3 a.m., I do not want to wake up five hours later to make it to a 9 a.m. class, during which I will probably fall asleep. That doesn't help my sleep-depravity or my grades. Having a 9AM class can make those absences soar. It's a good thing colleges have attendance policies, otherwise I would not have any determination to get up in the morning.
Unfortunately, having to balance a social life, work, school, and family time is extremely stressful. It’s not hard to get overwhelmed, especially when you have next-to-no time just to relax. There’s always something going on and you constantly feel as though you’re being pulled in every direction just waiting to see how long you can last before you’re stretched too thin. This probably isn’t a very healthy lifestyle, but hey, what can you do? Work is necessary for a large portion of college students in order to afford the pretty penny that college costs. Spending time with friends is an important part of our late-teen, early-adult years. Seeing your family, or even face-timing with them, can be a nice, much needed reminder of home, especially when feeling homesick. Learning to deal with the stress that follows with being a working college student, and making sure you have at least one night off a week, can bring down your stress levels ten-fold. Don’t try to overextend yourself. You know your limits, don’t pass them.
Typically when I have a paper, or a load of homework, that’s due by the end of the week, I try my best to study and finish everything the previous weekend so that I don’t have to stay up extremely late during the week. This isn’t always realistic. Working double shifts are painful, but sometimes we need those extra hours for our next paycheck. On weekends that I work double shifts, it’s likely that I’ll be way too exhausted to do my homework when I get home. Time management revolves around our minimal sleep schedules. Trying to muster the maximum amount of sleep when your schedule doesn’t allow for more than 5 hours almost every night can impact your studies, and energy level, in a negative way. There’s not enough hours in the day to allow us to do everything we need, as well as want, to do. We have to prioritize the most important things against the not-so-important things. Writing an essay for one of your classes, as opposed to watching the next show on Netflix that made your list, is probably worth higher priority.
Hard work pays off and those who work for what they have know what it’s like to have responsibilities. The value of independence starts in college, and learning how to adapt to this lifestyle can be a difficult transition. Make sure you allot some time to yourself every so often and you have the option to relax without all the stress of the outside world. It gets better and you will eventually understand that this is a blessing in disguise.