Most college grads will tell you that their college years were some of the best years of their lives.
But while you’re in the thick of it, it can be overwhelming.
You have to balance class, homework, and study sessions. You have to have fun by making friends and letting off steam at parties. It’s also important to partake in an internship or two. And if you’re doing all of those things, you’ll definitely need to make time for naps.
So how are you supposed to find time for a part-time job on top of everything else? Time management is an issue that many college students struggle with, but it’s a valuable skill to learn.
Keep reading for our top 5 time management tips to help you balance your college career and handle a part-time job.
1. Make Academics Your Top Priority
While partying and doing an internship may be integral parts of college life, don’t forget that the real reason you’re there is to learn. If you’re not focusing on your studies and working towards that degree, there is no point in being there at all.
Taking on a part-time job may be necessary in order to eat and pay the bills, but if you prioritize a job over your studies, you can actually lose money. You’re paying for every college credit you earn, so don’t skip classes because you’d rather work and make a few extra bucks.
According to this study, the average college credit costs $594. That means a 4 credit class costs $2,376. That’s $158 per week! Working those few extra hours to make $50 or $100 certainly doesn’t make financial sense.
Don’t let distractions get in the way of your education.
2. Choose a Realistic Class Schedule
You will inevitably have to take some classes that will eat up a lot of your time. Do yourself a favor and don’t load up with too many difficult classes in one semester.
When you know that a certain class, or a certain professor, is going to put you through the wringer, balance your class schedule the right way.
Balance that difficult course by taking some easier electives in the same semester. Those electives are credits you need to graduate, but they will ease up your schedule a bit so you can focus on that challenging class you can’t avoid.
Some students also find it helpful to pack all of their classes into 2 or 3 days and leave the other 2 or 3 days to do homework and study. Depending on the type of schedule you want, this often makes more sense than having to attend 1 or 2 classes five days a week.
3. Ask Your Employer for a Consistent Schedule
Once your class schedule is set, it’s set – and that makes it easy to follow the same routine week in and week out. But when you add a part-time job to the mix, it can be difficult to plan your time if your work schedule changes every week.
Ask your boss to schedule you for the same days and hours every week.
This way, you can plan your schedule out in advance and stick to a routine. With a specific routine in place, it’s easier to manage your time and find time to do other things. If your work schedule is all over the place, you’re sure to experience more stress.
4. Schedule Breaks
It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student or a seasoned professional 20 years into your career…people of all ages seem to struggle with this one.
We tend to feel guilty about taking breaks when there is so much work to be done. We think we can handle it and we feel like we’re doing the right thing by loading our schedule with back to back tasks.
But if you don’t schedule time for breaks, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Downtime is crucial to maintaining your mental and physical health. And without it, your work will suffer. Start thinking about taking breaks the way you think of other tasks. You can’t ignore them. They must be accomplished.
Some people prefer to take short two or three hour breaks throughout the week. Others prefer to clear an entire day, such as Saturday or Sunday, where they have no commitments. Do what works for you and your lifestyle. Master this skill in college and you can carry it forward with you into the real world.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Asking for help doesn’t mean that you’re failing. If you ask for help early on, it’s actually a proactive approach to an issue that could get further out of hand.
When you’re in college, it’s easy to find people that you can ask for help. If you’re struggling with a certain class, take advantage of your professor’s office hours. There might be something about the course that you’re missing or not picking up on. A one-on-one visit with a professor might help cut your three hour a night homework session into less than an hour.
Like school, work can easily make you feel overwhelmed. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your top priority is your education. If you feel overworked, let your boss know that you might need to cut back on your hours. If you don’t ask, your boss will never know if they are pushing you too hard.
Make the Most of your Time in College
College is full of distractions. And guess what? So is life. If you want to be productive at anything, you’ve got to master the art of time management.
As a college student, keep in mind that your focus is to learn and get your degree. Keep your mental and physical health strong by scheduling some downtime to relax and refuel. Pick a realistic class schedule that you can handle, and try to maintain a consistent schedule at work.
And when you’re feeling overwhelmed or overworked, ask for help. If you’re working too many hours, talk to your boss. If you’re struggling with a particular class, speak with your professor.
With these time management tips and tricks in mind, you’ll have more time to have fun and turn your college experience into everything it should be.
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