Being a student anywhere in the world is an eye-opening experience. We can all agree that studying and living abroad is enriching, teaching us skills and knowledge that we may not have experienced living at home.
It opens our eyes to communities from different cultures, people with different lifestyles or life circumstances. Some students may choose to work while at university, for others, it’s not so much an option. In this piece, we’ll take a look at the reality of working students, offering guidance on how to manage a hectic life as both student and professional.
Making time for what is important to you
We’re no strangers to this concept. We hear it at home from our parents or loved ones, from our teachers and our bosses. Being on top of your schedule is a tricky thing. Procrastination, financial hurdles or simply being overwhelmed can be factors that affect your productivity. Add in part-time employment or full-time work, and the week can be turned upside down. That is the reality of a working student.
Juggling work deadlines and assignments, often involve commuting from one place to the other, a working student finds him or herself exhausted or emotionally drained to deal with the day at hand.
Reality can be harsh, but it’s important to consider that sacrifices are necessary when you’re a working student. Managing multiple responsibilities is tiring, so consider what is priority to your life at this moment. Will completing this shift help you save to cover important school fees, and does skipping a night out at the pub save you money to buy good food so you’re well-nourished and healthy?
One tip when the week can seem a little heavy or overwhelming. Know that situations are never permanent. That means your busy week will come to an end, and your low savings can be boosted if you keep a healthy saving habit over a few weeks or months. Consider your sacrifices and ask yourself if this is important to you.
Admit it – we all face this. And it’s no different with working students. It could be simply putting off the laundry so you can vegetate in front of your favourite TV show, or avoiding the dentist to treat that painful tooth – both situations driven by exhaustion of juggling work and university studies.
One harsh truth when faced with procrastination is we can remind ourselves of the consequences of inaction. Putting off laundry may mean having fewer clean clothes to wear, which is inconsequential, but not treating a tooth infection can turn serious and cost you in the long run.
So, what does a busy student do? Go back to managing priorities, and making sacrifices – often a situation for working students. It is not the end of the world to turn down social engagements for a little more time to finish an assignment, nor is it negotiating with your boss for a shorter shift so you can make your university deadlines.
Finding spaces to breathe
A working student’s schedule is full. Days when they are not at university may be spent starting an early work shift halfway across town. Or they could be spending weekends waiting on tables at busy restaurants that open late into the night. Whatever time they have away from work or university would most likely be spent sleeping. Just to catch up on rest and recharge for the next busy week ahead.
But, again, situations are impermanent. A working student may be packing their schedule to save or support themselves or their families during university, or saving enough money for a flight home. And while in that temporary situation, working students can squeeze some flexibility in the way they run their week.
Arranging classes within a day or two to save on commuting costs is one option, or working students could use the time between shifts to work on coursework or catch up on study deadlines.
Amidst these responsibilities, there may be a chance for a quiet meal at home, rest and relax. Mid-term breaks may also be a chance for working students to do extra shifts and earn a little more. That way their schedule can ease up for the rest of the term allowing more space to manage coursework and employment.
Study mode – ON
This is the reality of working students but it is entirely possible to juggle work and study at the same time, so long as students keep a clear head, pause and plan to avoid burnouts.
Courses at universities can be customised too, to help with students who have to work. Part-time courses or distance learning modes are some of the options to ease the workload.
Of course, support networks exist for working students – informal social circles at work, or understanding university mates help the working student manage their lives.
It is important to remember though, the next time you meet a coursemate who chooses to, or has to work, lend them a helping hand or ear, and offer an openness and understanding of the realities of a working student.