While attending university can be one of the most memorable social experiences you’re likely to enjoy, it can also seem like some of the hardest work you’ll ever have to do.

Compound this with working to pay rent if you live off-campus, not to mention money for food, gas, vehicle maintenance, phone bills, then consider any recreational activities you’d like to take part in. Also be sure to allow for extra work that your studies may require, and don’t forget about maintaining relationships with friends and loved ones outside of school. Time becomes a priceless commodity, school an exercise in prioritizing and multi-tasking.

This may seem like an obvious description of what’s expected of you in college. But what many people don’t account for is that, for the student who doesn’t have the benefit of their education and housing being paid for, schoolwork is only the beginning of their laundry list. The course-load can be difficult under the best conditions; adding the strain of monthly bills and unexpected expenses can make it nearly unendurable.

Here are a handful of handy tips with the use of a daily staple that can help maintain the appropriate focus while leaving some time free to relax and enjoy what should be the greatest adventure in a young adult’s life.

The Calendar Is A Working Student’s Best Friend

Be it on a wall calendar, a Far Side desk calendar, or your phone’s calendar app, a solidified schedule is far easier than remembering everything on the fly. Let’s take a Theatre Arts student, for example. I can speak from experience, things pop up. Say the director for his/her student-run play asked if they could rehearse Monday at 7pm. Their first thought might be ‘I changed my availability at work so I have Mondays off, because this semester I’m taking Sociology 102 and it gets out at 6pm. So I can do it!’ But pulling out the calendar might remind them that they have to audition for the main stage production at 8pm, so they’d never get out of the proposed rehearsal in time… I’m certain law students and biology students and nursing students have their own issues with lectures and labs that pop up unexpectedly; at the very least, every student has specific times to buckle down with those immense tomes. Write down your commitments, and have control over your time instead of letting it get away from you.

Additionally, crossing things OFF of the calendar is an overwhelmingly therapeutic and rewarding act. Looking back over what you’ve already accomplished can boost your morale and help put into perspective that everything is working towards the ultimate goal.

Keep Track Of Your Finances

There’s a lot of room in the squares on a wall calendar, plenty to squeeze in what you made today waiting tables, or how much you spent at lunch with a classmate. Having a visible account of what you earn and spend can be immensely helpful. You might be surprised at what you’re spending on frivolous enjoyments! Sometimes you overlook a $5 frappuccino, or dismiss $12 at the laundromat as a necessary expenditure. These things add up, and your wallet doesn’t warn you.

Schedule Some Time For Yourself

The temptation may exist to tackle everything at once. At this age, experiencing life in your own environment for the first time, you feel outright invincible. There’s no reason you can’t write a 30-page paper on William Faulkner before studying for a pre-calc exam before taking that quiz for your online Spanish class. I’ve known countless friends who, despite being keenly intelligent (or perhaps because they were), took on far too much and burnt themselves out. While you’re in the aforementioned calendar jotting stuff down, block off time that can’t be offered up for anything, be it studying or picking up an extra shift. You’ll thank yourself for the breather.

Submitted & Written courtesy of Ryan Bair

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