Balancing A Job And College


To work or not to work … that is the question. Most of you are probably discovering the thrill of living on a student budget. Whether it’s tuition, books, those good old extras, or just plain independence, wake-up time comes quickly. You need money. And if you can’t or don’t want to demand it from anyone else, the question becomes — to work or not to work?

A lot depends on your personality and things like discipline, responsibility and self knowledge. Realize that your first priority is college. If you wanted to work at Wal-Mart, you could have skipped college. So any job you take will be a means to an end, not the end itself. It doesn’t have to be intellectually stimulating or something that interests you. You’ll get plenty of intellectual stimulation in college. The job is there to give you some ready cash. It’s not your life career choice.

When searching for a job, find one with flexible hours that can work around your college schedule. Your best bet would be finding a job the college itself offers. Those are tailor made to accommodate students and you may actually find something that interests you. If you are eligible for work study financial aid, you will be offered career-oriented job opportunities that can give you experience in your chosen field of study. Even non-work study jobs can range from media assistants to programming and tutoring to research assistants.

Employers in college towns are understanding of what students need. Jobs in retail and the food business might be greasy and boring, but they’ll be accommodating. If you can work on weekends, that would be ideal! Unless, of course, you can’t deal with the loss of your weekend downtime and study hours.

Try thinking out-of-the-box. You are a unique individual with many talents. Use them! Do research and writing for the lazy souls who are willing to pay you for it. Resell textbooks, fold laundry, offer to transcribe taped classes for students, tutor and post your notes online. Figure out what people need and offer it. You can also utilize the different opportunities of making money online. It might not be much, but a few bucks every week is better than nothing.

Above all, know yourself. Make it clear to your employer that you’re going to have to take days off around exam time. Create a schedule that works for you. Calculate how much time you’ll need for study and preparation. It’s better to wait a semester before getting a job, to see how much time you’ll have on your hands. Don’t work more hours than you can handle. And don’t forget that your sanity is important! Spending time with friends, not becoming a coffee addict and sleep are things to keep in mind when you get a job.

So use a good dose of common sense, and I can bet you’ll find a use for that extra cash.