How to Balance Work, School, a Social Life and Everything In Between
College is expensive, and trying to work a job during the school year can be very difficult. Being a full-time student takes up quite a bit of time, and having to work a full-time or part-time job on top of that adds lots of stress and requires better time management. Because of this, many students are hesitant to add to their schedule by getting a job. The problem with not working is that you then have less money to spend on food, rent, and school which limits you in many other ways. This was a problem I knew I would have when I got to college, because regardless of if I could make enough money during the summer time, I wanted to have a strong resume when I left college and this would require me to work during the school year.
Going into my first year of college I wanted to be able to enjoy my experience and not struggle with my time. Ever since middle school I had spent my summers doing yard work and lawn care which allowed me to save up a bit of money. Since I didn’t have any real expenses as a kid, all the money I made I was able to just save. I would spend some of it on new clothes, gaming systems, or whatever I wanted to buy myself, but for the most part it just stayed untouched. Although I wasn’t swimming in cash from my lawn care services, I felt comfortable going into college knowing that I would have enough money to survive the first year without working. I knew that doing this would require me to work pretty hard the next summer, but I wanted to spend my first year adapting to college and learning how to manage my time when I had complete freedom.
My first year of college I had to learn how to be a student and an athlete, while also trying to learn how to simply be an adult. Thankfully, my parents had taught me lots of lessons about time management and priorities while I was young so I didn’t struggle too much early on. Oddly enough, my struggles began once I had too much free time -- due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of my classes transitioned to online and created a different experience. I didn’t have to attend many of my classes and I also no longer had practice and weights to go to. I had basically no responsibilities everyday and was able to do whatever I wanted. The bright side of this was that I didn’t have to worry about spending money on gas or going out to eat, so I did save money but I also developed poor time management habits. I knew going into my first year that I would have to get a real job the following summer, but once that summer came along I didn’t feel prepared to do so.
I tried to find every way I could skip out on getting a job, but eventually realized that I simply didn’t have enough money saved up to make it another year without a job. Despite the pandemic, I was able to find a job working remotely at the Eastern Oregon University Small Business Development Center. This helped me make money over the summer, but since it was remote I was able to do a lot of work on my own time and increased my newfound habits of poor time management. When fall came around, I began to transition back to practicing with my team, taking some classes in person, and continuing to work at my job. Despite having fairly good time management skills originally, I had developed some poor habits with my time and was unsure if I would be able to juggle all of those things.
At first, I found myself stressed trying to manage going to work, going to class, going to practice and finding time to do everything else I needed on a daily basis. That stress quickly turned to relief when I realized that I no longer had to worry so much about paying my rent every month and affording food. I was still living on a tight budget, as most college students are, but I wasn’t counting on money I had saved to get me through the school year. Having a part-time job took up some of my free time, but allowed me to save up money and ensured that I could pay my bills. I continued to struggle with finding time to do the fun things I wanted, but I slowly got better with my time management as the year went along. Although it was tough at first, and I still continue to be pretty busy, having a job throughout college has allowed me to have comfort with my monthly expenses and save a little bit of money. Not only that, but it’s also given me a far stronger resume for when I need to leave college to start my career and become financially independent.
The struggle of balancing work along with school, sports and having a social life is challenging, but a problem many of us face. However, with a little practice and the desire to build a savings, time management is doable, and gets easier with perseverance.