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How to Juggle Working During the School Year

The most challenging part of college is balance. Between social life, school work, and extracurricular activities, the constant balancing act can be stressful at best. When work is thrown into the mix, the juggling act can become overwhelming. While many students work for extra spending money or to save up for a spring break trip, for many others working during the school year is a necessity to pay for school or rent. No matter the reason why students work during the school year, it is important to maintain a careful balance between work, school, and play.

School comes first

The most important thing to remember when trying to juggle working while taking classes is that school comes first. Sometimes between the social life and RSO’s, class takes a backseat. While working and making money to support yourself is important, if work causes your grades to slip it might not be worth sacrificing your GPA for extra cash. This is especially important if the job you’re working isn’t something in your field of study-- if it isn’t going to embellish your resume it isn’t worth the C- in Physics!

Find a job that fits your schedule

In order to prevent your job from taking priority over academic or social activities, it's necessary for your job to fit around your schedule. Most students have class during the afternoon, so working the morning or night shift allows your job to not interfere with your classes. There are a variety of coffee shops on campus that have early morning shifts, or bars that have late night positions!

Think about your career and academic goals when looking for a job

While there’s nothing wrong with working just to make some cash, students should consider positions that will help them advance their career goals. The University has a number of research positions that look impressive on a resume. There are also paid positions in various departments like The Career Center. Another option is earning academic credit for working-- a great option for those looking to advance academically and financially!

Don’t let work take over your life

While working for what you have is a testament to character and work ethic, college is the time to explore who you are and discover all of the opportunities that campus has to offer. Don’t let work overtake your entire life to the point where it’s all work no play. Let me put it this way-- you have the rest of your life to work, but only four years in college! Enjoy it while you can.

Be proud of being a working student!

Students who work in college-- whether you’re a bartender, grinding at an internship, or dedicating yourself to research-- should be proud. While juggling work and academics isn’t easy, working gives you a leg up because it teaches you valuable skills like time management, working for what you want, and balance.


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Emily Whalen

Illinois '21

Sophomore at University of Illinois studying political science and psychology.
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