Sometimes, if you’re a college student, you may feel like you have no time whatsoever for a social life. With busy college classes and the impending after-class studying which accompanies it, not to mention deadlines to hit and the important campus party you definitely need to be at, occasionally you might wish you could be in two places at once (and sleep a whole lot more).
Of course, this is all on top of the relationships you’re trying to maintain, whether that’s a friend, a lecturer or a particular person you’re pretty serious about.
Just when you’ve mastered the art of harmonizing class and home-study with a thriving social life, the prospect of being employed and earning a wage at the same time as taking your studies further suddenly appears, where yet another balancing act is required – and seems truly impossible.
The good news is, it really isn’t. Nothing is impossible, after all, if you have enough dedication and passion about what you’re doing, and you’ll never be alone in doing it. Sure, you may feel like you’re the only person in the world doing what you’re doing right now (and you might feel crazy for deciding to do it in the first place), but you’re not.
There are a few things to think about when taking the important step in choosing to study for a career alongside working ‘just a job,’ as outlined below.
Consider Online Studying Instead of Attending A Physical Class or Institution
If you’re already trained and have completed your college education, but you’re required to take it a step further with another qualification needed to advance your career, you should seriously look into online learning courses if you’re put off by the idea of attending a physical establishment and spending time, money and energy traveling to and from it.
A great example of this situation is the medical profession. You can qualify in college for the grades needed for a medical career, but this is a career path with so many levels and branches to it that it’s inevitable that the end of college definitely won’t be the end of studying. In fact, it’s barely even scratched the surface.
Institutions like Baylor University, for example, offer family NP programs online which enable you to get the next qualification in a registered nursing career by online study and a schedule which genuinely works for you around your other commitments.
These types of programs are usually designed for those in employment, too.
The people who are running these online institutions and courses know how much support you’re going to need from a distance learning perspective, which means they’ve already thought of all your potential issues before you’ve even brought up the topic with them, and there is always a solid support system online, even if you aren’t seeing anybody physically.
Connect with Others in the Same Situation
If your social life is taking a huge hit because of the amount of time needed for you to study and work a job to pay the bills, it can be a very solitary experience and can sometimes get the better of you. To avoid agitation and potential breakdowns because you’re feeling lonely and cut off, try and connect with others who may be studying and working, too.
If you’re doing an online course, as mentioned above, check whether there is a support forum for you to speak online with other students or even lecturers. Even if it’s just a quick post to discuss the workload, or something completely different, taking five minutes just to remind yourself that there are others like you, too, can be a huge help.
You can even organize study dates to do your studying with other people in the area working towards the same qualification as you if you’re the kind of person who finds studying with others easier to manage than studying alone.
Or find a happy balance of both, as solitary working can sometimes be very beneficial, and socializing too much can have just as negative an effect.
Be Honest, All the Time, With Everyone
This doesn’t mean you should tell your friends what you really think about their latest outfit choice or life problems; what this means is 100% truthful communication about what it is you’re trying to achieve.
If you have friends or family members who have not chosen the same path as you, it may be that they have a whole load of free time (which you don’t have), and may mean you get a host of invitations to things you really can’t accept because you have work or study obligations to fill.
They’ll be a whole lot less offended by your refusal to attend if they already know how much of a workload you’re competing with, rather than you constantly saying that you “just can’t make it.”
Also, if you live with others, they need to understand when you may have study and work commitments. If your work shifts are different to theirs, for example, and you need to get a good night’s sleep after a long shift in time for your study schedule, but that happens to be the same time they’d like to host a party or play their music really loud, make sure you communicate what’s going on with you and how the routine needs to be for all people involved.
Sure, some compromises will need to be made along the way, but these will only work effectively if you’re speaking honestly about the commitments you have.
Additionally, if your job is the kind which offers a lot of extra hours and overtime, and your superior just happens always to ask you to work extra shifts, be sure that your employers know that you are studying alongside employment – that you aren’t always available to take on extra shifts, and the crucial reasons why.
As long as you are fulfilling your contractual agreement of hours, don’t ever feel bad about turning down extra shifts if you simply can’t do it because of your studying. Your employer and colleagues will be much more understanding about it if you’re honest with them.
What’s more, your colleagues might even offer to cover a few shifts for you from time to time, if they know you’re studying and you might need an extra day to catch up with that side of things instead of working.
The more honest and open you are, the easier it will be to manage.
Try a Job Which Works Around your Studies, Not the Other Way Around
If the whole purpose of this situation is that you’re working only to pay the bills, and you’re studying to achieve the career you really want, then the studying side is obviously the priority. If you’re working a job which has awkward hours and you are often left feeling tired after shifts, consider swapping to employment which is more flexible around your studying.
If you’re really open to any kind of employment as long as it pays during your studies, then consider doing something with more structured hours if that allows you fixed time for studying. Or even a job with more unsociable hours if you’re the kind of person who can stay awake all night and happens to study better during the day.
Take some time to think about what works for you in regards to your study schedule, and work your job around that.
Also, consider a job which is not too specific and which has plenty of colleagues available to cover or swap shifts. If your studies need a day for an exam or a certain paper due, you need to ensure your job is the kind which will let you book vacation days and is easily covered, rather than a job which has you as the sole person doing a particular position.
You don’t want to take one day off and have the work snowball and pile up for you to have to deal with when you return – which is added stress you could do without.
Feel Proud, Work Hard, Enjoy It
You’re working towards something truly wonderful, and you should be hugely proud of yourself for deciding to do it in the first place. It’s easy to want to give up when the stresses of juggling everything become a little too much, but never sell yourself short of telling yourself that you’re doing a great job.
It’s hard to make yourself enjoy something if it’s truly running you into the ground, but these are experiences you may never have again, and it’s all part of the end result you’re working hard to achieve. So, don’t shrug off the stressful journey as just a means to the end, but try and look at it differently, in small, positive steps – and reward yourself when needed.
Above all else, don’t forget to look after yourself. If balancing everything is truly affecting your physical and/or mental health, seek help, re-evaluate and don’t push yourself further than you can rightfully go. If you need to take a break, take it.