There are many students going into college who are struggling financially. While some students rely on scholarships and/or financial aid, most students are also willing to maintain a part-time job for financial stability.

I happen to have been working in a fast food restaurant throughout my college career. Fortunately, my employer has been pretty good about respecting my college schedule as long as I notify her two weeks in advance. To succeed, it really came down to was how I would manage my time in between my courses and my work. The first semester went by pretty well, the second semester got a little messy. I started getting overwhelmed and began to fall behind on assignments. I needed the job for financial reasons, so I had to drop a course in order to keep up with homework. It’s understandable why having a job while at college isn’t for everyone, but without it I wouldn’t be able to afford my living expenses. With all of that said, here is what I have learned from this experience so far.

One thing in particular I’ve learned is to plan ahead! Make sure to work around your course and work schedules and have a reasonable amount of time to study. Always know when assignments are due and when a big exam is coming up. Your workplace should know about your course schedule in advance so they can schedule people work around it and know when you are available to work. Make sure to don’t strain yourself, make sure to have breaks, and take time to relax. That being said, don’t procrastinate and begin assignments the night before they are due.

Many college students receive advice to not work too many hours per week. I would suggest not only sharing your course schedule with your employer. Instead, share your course + study time schedule. My workplace has been pretty good about working with my course schedule, but they would schedule me to work quite a bit of hours during the weekends, which didn’t leave me many hours to study. My advice, try aiming for 15-20 hours per week to avoid being overworked. If your workplace doesn’t respect your availability, I encourage you to apply somewhere that will, there are many businesses in the area that will support your efforts!  

The most important thing to know is what is best for you. When my second semester started, I was getting stressed with the amount of hours I would be working and the amount of assignments. It got to the point where I was feeling sick the more I studied. As I previously explained, I had to drop one of my courses in order to keep up. Some may argue that I should’ve quit my job, but I needed my job in the long run. Fortunately, my Mid Mentor was really understanding and I was able to drop the course without negatively impacting my academic or financial aid record. Since making that tough choice, I was able to have a better academic performance and I had more time to study on my assignments. There are times you need to realize that you are only human and that you have limits.

College isn’t always easy, and working during college presents its own challenges.  I hope what I have learned can help you plan, prioritize, and succeed this semester. Make sure you know how your job affects your academics and vice versa. Most importantly, always do you best and your hard work will pay off! Good luck in your academic career and your job performance.  

Ryan Reed at Work
Categories: Ryan