College Thriving Guide: Balancing School and Work

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During school I was always SO jealous of my peers that got to just go to college for four years. I was not that lucky and worked 30-40 hours a week starting my freshman year. Looking back though I am so thankful that I did. I was able to graduate college with not only my degree but also 4 years of relevant work experience and arguably more important I was able to build up a strong work ethic.

Learning to find the balance between whatever your combination of full or part time school and work is hard. It’s so easy to let your schoolwork get pushed to the back burner or to let all of it overwhelm you to the point that you can’t enjoy these fun years!

1) Know when things are due

That syllabus will be a life saver. At the beginning of every semester go through the syllabus and put every due date and quiz or test date in your planner (and actually check your planner!).

2) Wake up early & at consistent times

If you’re going to pull off going to school and working you’ll need to take advantage of your mornings and be consistent with your sleep schedule. For my four years I scheduled as many early classes as I could (probably the only person out there begging for 8ams).

I would get up at 6:30 am, eat, coffee, and plan my day before heading out to classes. I gave my work PM and weekend availability but I know of peers that flipped that schedule and worked AMs and took PM classes. It definitely will depend on what your school offers for class times and what your work schedule entails.

3) Take advantage of down times

An hour in between classes is what can make or break surviving your busy schedule. Don’t spend that hour walking to the chipotle across campus. Pack a super quick lunch and get some assignments done!

Taking advantage of down times is SO SO SO important.

If you’re lucky enough to have an employment situation where you are able to do some homework on the job then don’t waste that opportunity. Until I took a management position in my industry I was able to and it was a serious blessing when balancing full time school and work. If you don’t have your college job yet then that’s something to consider when looking for one. Most colleges offer “work – study” programs that you can apply for but are usually only part time. If you’re looking for full time jobs a lot of front desk or receptionists positions allow school work during slower times.

4) Learn to say “no thanks!”

I also talk about this in my 7 day productivity plan LINK but when such a majority of your time is committed to either school or work you can’t just give your remaining time away. You need to keep control of your life and your own time. And the key to that is that you need to learn to say no if you don’t REALLY want to do something.

Don’t miss out on your college experience but don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re getting 3 hours of sleep a night due to FOMO. Finding the balance between work and school is already hard but then adding a social life into it makes it seem impossible. It isn’t but you have to learn to say no to things that you aren’t seriously excited to do.

5) Set reminders for everything

This is more than just alarms for classes and work. My advice is to set silent alarms on your phone and make the label a slightly more detailed reminder. Deadlines and exam mornings are especially important to set reminders for. Forgetting to submit a paper or project can destroy your grade and in some extreme cases even result in failing a class. Don’t take that risk and set reminders!

6) Prioritize

You NEED to prioritize your day. It’s so important to prioritize that I made a whole guide about it! Seriously read this guide and learn how to prioritize your day and your week. If you know everyday what you need to do you can figure out how to get it all done and how to stay sane while balancing school and work.


Balancing school and work can seem like a daunting task but if you put your mind to it, it really is manageable.




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