10 tips to manage working while going to college


College can be tough, and working while taking classes is even harder. For many students, though, it has become a financial necessity. Here are 10 tips to help you successfully manage working while going to school. (And for resume advice and tips for landing a job, check out our “Internships, Jobs, and Careers” section.)

1. Classes are always top priority

Work out your school schedule first. You can schedule work around your classes, but you can’t always schedule classes around work. Your degree is more important than a temporary job.

2. Stay organized

Use your phone’s calendar app or Google Calendar to remind you of important events like classes and changing work shifts. Don’t leave it up to your memory alone because life in college is too hectic to remember everything.

3. Get work-study

Work-study jobs are usually on campus and can be scheduled around your classes. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a job in your department. If you’re really lucky, it may count toward your degree. Apply for work-study when you fill out the FAFSA and talk to your school’s financial aid department about your options.

4. Make sure your employer knows your availability

As soon as you get your class schedule, let your boss know. Give them a copy of your schedule and make sure they understand that you can’t work during those times. The sooner you let your employer know, the more likely they’ll be able to accommodate your scheduling needs.

5. Do homework at work

I had a job as an afternoon nanny during college. The girls would do their homework and I would do some of mine. Nanny, barista, bookstore clerk — these are ideal jobs for college students because there’s lots of extra time to work on your own stuff.

6. Ask for finals week off in advance

If you have a project, paper, or finals coming up, give yourself the extra time you’ll need — either to study or just to have a little free time to relax and clear your head.

7. Don’t overload yourself

Pick-up shifts are great if you need some extra cash, but don’t take on too much at once. You’ll burn out fast. School is hard all by itself, and working demands your time and attention. Don’t put a strain on yourself, or both will suffer.

8. Don’t work between classes

Either work before your first class or after your last class, and leave a good buffer of time in between. That way, if class or work runs late, it won’t be too much trouble.

9. Dress for success

Just in case you DO have to run from work to class or the other way around, dress in clothes that are both comfortable and work-appropriate. Master the business casual look now. It will be your best friend in the future.

10. Make time for you

College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Give yourself time to make memories and enjoy yourself. It’s not your job or classes you’ll remember most, it’s the people you meet and things you do along the way.

Now that you know how to handle your business, use our job and internship search to find your grind.