How to maintain a work-life balance as a full-time student and employee

By Israel Hernandez

If you were to ask a full-time high school or college student if their schoolwork sometimes felt like having a full-time job, the answer would be a resounding yes. Just like a full-time job, full-time schoolwork comes with long hours, late nights, groggy mornings, and a roller coaster of stress. With this hectic workload, a student might laugh at the idea of adding a full-time job to that equation. But is it really that impossible? The answer is no. We already shared four tips for creating a work/school balance, so here are six more work-life balance tips to make working as a full-time student possible.

1. Make social sacrifices

Making social sacrifices is one of the hardest parts of being a full-time student and employee. This is where your work-life balance really comes into play. Finding time to socialize will be much more difficult for you than for other students who do not have full-time jobs. There will be many times when you will need to sacrifice hanging out with your friends in order to finish studying because you have work the next day. This requires a great deal of self-discipline and maturity, but will undoubtedly set you up for success in the future. But don’t overdo it, it’s still important to go out with friends every once in a while for your own sanity. You just have to manage your work-life balance effectively.

2. Create a schedule

This will help you stay organized and boost your confidence by having a solid plan to tackle your future assignments. A schedule will also help you identify conflicting appointments or class times, and where you can fit in more free time. When creating a schedule, remember to use what works best for you. If you are someone who is constantly on the go and prefers quick reminders, try using a pocket planner or a digital schedule on your phone. If you prefer to start and end your day looking at your tasks, perhaps a whiteboard schedule at home would work best. Regardless of the type, a detailed and accurate schedule won’t just keep you organized, it will reduce your stress levels and help you maintain a positive work-life balance.

3. Get out and mix it up

Studying outside of your dorm room or house is a great way to make studying feel less constrictive and mundane. Do your best to break the robotic cycle of school-work-home, and try to find fresh and fun ways to change your setting. Whether it’s a local coffee shop, the library, or a quiet park, studying in a new location can help refresh your mind and keep you sane.

4. Choose a job that fulfills your needs

With a full-time course load and work, your job is undoubtedly going to have a significant effect on your attitude, energy, and ultimately your motivation. Choose a job that allows you to have a work-life balance and keeps you feeling fulfilled. If you want a job that relates to your intended college major, get input from your guidance counselor, academic advisor, or internship department. If you prefer a job that gives you a break from your academics, then find a job that you can be passionate about outside of your studies. Having a full-time job that challenges you can be a good thing, however it’s important to know yourself and your limits. If a job stresses you out, distracts you, or limits your potential to achieve your academic goals, then it is clearly not a good fit.

5. Take advantage of online classes

Taking classes online is a great way to free up your schedule and make you a more flexible full-time college student and worker. Just one online class can alleviate scheduling conflicts with work and school, and also allow you to be in class on your own time. If you have the ability to take more than one class online then do it; it will be beneficial for your work-life balance in the long run.

6. Solve problems creatively

Creativity is key when tackling a full-time course load and a full-time job. If you encounter an obstacle, create a list of what-ifs and other creative options before you rule something out. Whether the issues are related to time constraints, transportation, living situation, or classwork, there will often be more than one solution to every problem. It also doesn’t hurt to create your list with a trusted friend, mentor, or family member, especially if that person has experienced similar problems.

Finding time to work and study is difficult, especially when other factors, such as your social life, play in. But the more you practice managing your time, the better your work-life balance will be and the better you'll be at your "real job" after you graduate.

Check out our in-college job and internship search to find a job that fits your schedule.

About the author

Israel HernandezIsrael is a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. He is a ground intelligence specialist stationed in San Diego. He loves surfing, breweries, and going to local shows. In fall 2016 he will be transferring to San Diego State University as a junior and will be earning a Bachelor of Science in health communications. With his degree, he hopes to work as a public health advocate.