Be a successful Juggler: a guide to better Work, Life and School Balance

eye on the prize

Many people have taken on the roles of spouse, employee, parent, and caregiver before even beginning their career as a college student.  If like some you choose to take on two or more of these roles, sir/madam I applaud you for your super powers because it takes extraordinary abilities and effort to pull it off.

My Job

Finding the income to pay for all my living essentials and at the same time accommodate my work hours to my school schedule limits my opportunity to work a regular weekday 9-to-5 job, for this reason I have chosen a temporary career in the restaurant industry. Working nights and weekends is ideal for the college student, I benefit from the compatible work hours to make money in my time off campus and acquire skills that will equip me for my future position in a professional field.  So far I have learned from the restaurant trade inter-personal skills, teamwork lessons, and relationship building techniques that will serve me in my career in business once I graduate.  The sacrifice I make for all of this is time, and I can promise you, time is only missed when you really need it.  All together I forego over 40 hours in a week.

My Classes

I am enrolled in 15 credit hours this semester, represented by the five classes I take.  The golden rule in college is to multiple your credit hours by three to estimate your total course load.  Think of it this way, for every hour you spend in class you can expect to spend an additional three hours reading, preparing for exams, writing papers, and completing group projects and homework.  The 1:3 ratio puts me at around 45 hours a week.

My Tips

I have made it this far with a summa cum laude academic standing and these are the tips that have helped me achieve this.

  1. Prioritize! What is more important, going out with friends or catching up with your studying for the mid-term? The choice is clear, place school first and at the end of the day your goal can be achieved.
  2. Schedule. Proper time management is essential.  Make a weekly schedule to organize your waking hours so that you can meet your most pressing obligations first.  Then create a monthly schedule so that you can request time off from you employer in advance to avoid conflicts.  
  3. Contingency Plan. Inevitably you will find yourself slammed with school work.  Projects and exams have a habit of sneaking up on you, even all at once and you will find yourself falling behind.  Find flexibility with your employer, discuss it with them and let it be clear that there will be times where you won’t be available.  When times are slow do favors for your co-workers, like picking up shifts, so that when you need it most they will return the favor. Professors want to see their students succeed, often deadlines and exam dates are open for extension if you simply reach out to them and express your needs. 

I hope this advice helps you in your journey to the podium.  My experience shows that it can be done! Albeit, with no social life and sleep deprived. But the sacrifice is worth all the sweat, blood and tears. To make it you need perseverance, and from what I have been told it does not get any easier after college. Go YOU!

About dereknehls

A Senior at Robert H. Smith School of Business, follow me as I accomplish my aspirations to become a business professional at the UMD's Shady Grove Campus in Rockville, Md.
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