OPINION: Finding the right balance between school and work


Not all college students are the same.  We all have different living situations, goals and amounts of responsibility that we juggle outside of our coursework.

College isn’t challenging to complete just because of the schoolwork.  It gets difficult when you consider having to juggle school, a job or two, extracurricular activities, a social life as well as self-care that fits in there sometimes.

From working almost 60 hours a week between two jobs to earning a salary as a college newspaper editor, I have experienced it all.

There are pros and cons to working a lot compared to not working much (or at all), and while many don’t have a choice to not work, it feels like either option means giving up something and also getting something that is more important to you.

For me, I am glad that I spent the first two years of my college career working excessively while attending community college.  I was living on my own at the time, experiencing independence and taking care of myself, and accomplished so many things in a short amount of time.

I had all the money that I needed, and a great sense of fulfillment after a long day.  But I was tired.  So tired, and cranky after waking up early to work after a night of no  studying and partying instead. Frankly, I wasn’t taking care of myself at all.  I got extremely sick multiple times that year and no part of my daily routine was focused on health, only surviving. 

In a way, sometimes I still feel burnt out from that experience.  It’s a lifestyle I could never go back to, but I can’t help to look back on it sometimes and be jealous of the person I used to be.  Then, I remember that I live in a society that ties our self-worth to our productivity and I quickly forget that feeling.

I won’t pretend there aren’t drawbacks to what I am doing now.  Money’s tight, tighter than I would like, but I have drastically improved my spending habits.  Also, I was able to save so much money after working that much.  

Now, I feel like I’m living paycheck to paycheck and am not saving as much for the future.  I also developed an insanely good work ethic through working two jobs, and built resilience through the experience. 

In the end, it’s important to consider the pros and cons for your own personal life.  Do what you need to do at this current moment in time.

Consider what you are really wanting out of your college experience.  There is no right answer and it will help you evaluate what you want to make time for and what you can do without.  

Don’t try to look at other people’s and envy their work-school balance.  You will go through different stages, so try to always look for the positive of the current situation you’re in.