Image of a young man with his bookbag on, heading off to work, balancing work and studying. Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions via Unsplash.

Balancing Work and Studying in College

Going to school can be a game changer. You may be the first in your family to go. You might be beginning the journey of a lifetime to your dream career. Unfortunately, for many of us, going to college usually means getting a job to make ends meet. Where exactly do you find space to be a person in all that? Well, being solution-oriented as we are, let’s take a look at some tips for balancing work and studying in college and see if we can’t even those scales.

Set Realistic Goals

Here’s your foundation. Don’t try to be a full-time student and work a 60hr/wk job. It’s not to say it can’t be done (there has to be someone out there that’s doing it right now), but that doesn’t mean it SHOULD be done. If you’re going to be a freshman, find your footing before you jump into the deep end with work. If you’re going into your sophomore or later years, take the lessons you’ve learned about living the college life and set realistic goals for balancing work and studying.

Create a Schedule

Take control of your life by setting up specific time for what you need and want to do. Whether weekly or monthly, outline your class times, work shifts, and study time. Make sure you include some personal time in there and guard your schedule like you guard your peace. The better you’re able to stick to it, the more control you’ll be able to maintain.

Prioritize tasks

Within your schedule, determine the importance of your tasks, map them out, and execute. Knock out those stress inducing, high-priority tasks first so you can get to the rest of your workload with lighter shoulders.

Use a planner or digital tools

Google isn’t just a search engine. Use 👏that👏calendar👏 for everything! Whatever your platform of choice, take advantage of the technology to stay on top of your hectic schedule. If you’re more old school, grab your planner and fill it up. As long as you have a central place to see when and where things are happening, you’re on the right path to balancing work and studying.

Practice time management

Yes, technically everything we’ve gone over so far is time management. What we’re focusing on here is more moment to moment. Learning to put your head down and focus, distraction free, for a solid 30 minutes is so important. Why? Because it takes almost 30 minutes to get back on task after an interruption. Yeah. Also, note that purposeful breaks to recharge can prevent burnout and keep your focus tighter. The only way to take advantage of all this info is to sharpen those time management skills.


They say closed mouths don’t get fed. Well, they don’t get help either. As difficult as it may be, it is to your advantage to at least try to communicate your issues to those who can help.

Your employer and professors

Two excellent places to test your communication skills are with your employer and your professors. Now, that’s not to say it will work, but you won’t know unless you try. Explain your situation and see what options may be available to help you with balancing work and studying.

Look into campus resources

Tutoring centers, study groups, and academic advisors are all there to make your college life easier. Well, as far as school work goes anyway. Utilize these resources to lighten the weight of your academic load.

Practice Self-Care

A scenic view of a mountain range from a wooden balcony. Trees are seen in the foreground just beyond the guard rail of the balcony. Clicking on the picture links to the article Avoid the Burnout and Take the Break.

No one can help you like you can. Getting enough sleep, eating well (or as well as one can in the middle of the freshman 15), and getting regular exercise can greatly help you stay physically well enough to handle your busy schedule. Also, don’t forget to unwind now and then. We are more than our classes and our jobs. Never forget to take care of you.

Learn to say no

There are going to be a lot of opportunities, both good and bad, that will come your way. Some will be for work, some will be for fun, but all will have a cost. Your time and your energy are spent with everything you do, so it’s ok when you don’t want to pay that cost. Take that weekend to sleep in instead of partying. Let someone else do that overtime. N-O is more than just two letters in alphabetical order. Use them.

The Wrap Up

When you think you have it all figured out, the next semester will come and throw everything off. That’s ok. Take your time, adjust, and get back to it. Utilize these tips for balancing work and studying and don’t let this adulting thing burn you out. You got this!

Headshot picture of the writer of this article, Kenneth Medford III, with a muted black and white filter.
Kenneth Medford III

Writer, rhymer, gamer: the easiest way to define the man known as Kenneth Medford. I’m a simple man who loves to learn and loves to help and I wander the digital world trying to find ways to sate my hunger for both. Basically, I’m Galactus but helpful.

Check out my other work here or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

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