The Truth about Juggling School and Work

 

Most, if not all, college students have to hold a part-time job (or two) at some point in their college years. Whether they’re saving for a car, need to pay for rent or their unnecessarily expensive textbooks, or even so they can afford overpriced campus food, it’s hard to find a student who isn’t already working or someone who doesn’t plan on finding a job. It’s great experience to put on a resume, if the job is in any way relatable to their future careers. There are often students who take on unpaid/paid internships on top of their heavy workload, knowing an internship will give them a better edge in finding jobs in the post-college world, and joining two or three registered student organizations to add sparkle to their resumes. But trying to juggle all of these extracurriculars and coursework invites stress, and grades as well as work ethic will start to fail, especially during the late sunrises and early sunsets of the winter season.

 

These students will eventually resent the activities they once loved because other things occupy their mind and their schedule. There is a difference between overworking and overachieving—one causes stress and the feeling of never completing a project or goal, and the other might ignite an overall feeling of accomplishment and pride. It’s important to remember not to force oneself to fill in every little minute in their schedule just to feel like they’re keeping up with the rest of overachieving college students. No one is superhuman, and choosing to drop some (unnecessary) activities is not going to make one fail or less competitive in the real world.

 

Here are a few tips college students might find helpful when taking on new activities outside of academics:

 

Invest in a detail-oriented and well-scheduled planner/agenda. Having a cute planner and fun, colorful accessories like stickers, sticky notes, and paper clips will keep you motivated to check your schedule regularly and plan ahead of time. What’s the point of buying a cheap, boring planner if you’re not excited enough to use it well?

 

Weigh the pros and cons of your extracurriculars. Think about how an unpaid internship may benefit you in the long run versus working a paid retail job five days a week and realizing you’re more inclined to work for money rather than have time to study for your failing classes. Paid or not, internships are learning experiences and often once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The retail jobs, on the other hand, will always be around.

 

It’s better to be successful at one or two things than putting more on one’s plate than she/he can finish. It may be helpful to separate activities that don’t relate to your future career goals and the ones that you just enjoy for fun away from important internships and a job that you really need to keep.