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Balancing school and the other parts of your life is always hard, but this year it has posed an even bigger challenge for college students. In a normal year, you’re usually able to at least physically separate your school life from your personal life, you walk to classes, study at the library, go to in person office hours with your professor. While some people may prefer to do their schoolwork at home, at least you had the opportunity to choose. 


This year, we’re all stuck learning out of our living rooms. Eating, sleeping, attending class and studying all in the same place is enough to drive anyone stir crazy. It also makes it hard to find separation between work and school.  


Here are some ways to balance work and school in the same place: 

Do Not Attend Classes from Your Bed

It’s always tempting to just log onto Zoom from your bed, especially when you have an early class, but take my advice and do not give into that temptation. You most likely won’t pay attention as much as you would if we were sitting at a table or desk, and you may even fall back to sleep. Also, your bed should be somewhere for you to sleep and relax- don’t throw going to class into that mix.

Make To-Do lists 

Not only does this help organize your responsibilities, it also saves you time and keeps you from wondering about what task you should tackle next. Checking things off my to-do list helps keep me motivated and feeling accomplished. 

Take the Time to Make a Good Meal 

One of the few good things that online school provides is time. By not having to hustle across campus to your next class, you have more time to actually sit down and eat a meal. Make sure you set aside time for a filling breakfast or lunch so you’re feeling energized and satisfied. 

Take a Break from Your Computer

Staring at a screen all day is not ideal. Throughout the day, take some time to get off your phone and laptop to give your eyes a rest. This might be a good time to make that meal! But in all seriousness, don’t feel like you need to be glued to your screen all day. Breaks are very necessary. 

Talk to Friends or Roommates During the Day 

Online classes can be lonely. It’s always good to have some kind of human interaction throughout the day, even if it’s just a five minute conversation. 

Have a Designated Area for School

This is probably the most useful tip I can give when it comes to balancing work and school. Having a specific spot to study and attend class will help you to get in a routine. It will also provide some sense of separation from your life outside of school. This can be as simple as a seat at your kitchen table, as long as it works for you. 

Find Something to Do Outside of School 

I don’t mean you need to pick up a new hobby. I mean find a new TV show you can watch, or a podcast to listen to or anything that you enjoy for yourself once you finish your work for the day. With online school, I often feel like I need to be doing work until 2 a.m., because I am able to. That doesn’t mean I need to. Finding something to get your mind off things and unwind because is so important. 

Balancing online school and work isn’t easy, but it’s definitely possible. I believe in you! 

Rachel Darata is a junior at Penn State majoring in Telecommunications aiming to get a Smeal College of Business Fundamentals Certificate.
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