How To Successfully Work Your Way Through College

You know the story about the college student who valiantly worked their way through medical school, going to class all day and working all night, and somehow made it through and grew up to be a successful brain surgeon?

Although that story is as old and clichéd as the one about your grandpa walking a mile to get to school, there’s a lot of truth to it.

With tuition going up around the country and scholarships cutting back, many students are finding themselves having to work throughout the school year to make ends meet.

The difficulties that come with working and going to school are many, but it’s entirely possible for everyone to do it; all it takes is dedication, responsibility and organization.

Even if you’re not necessarily working to pay for school, but just to have some extra money, there are a few rules you have to follow to make sure you succeed in both.

  • Get organized – I cannot stress this enough: invest in a calendar. When you get your work schedule for the week, write down your shifts and make sure they don’t interfere with any tests or assignments you may have to do. Realize that you won’t have a ton of free time, so get in the habit of planning out your days to the best of your ability so you can manage your time better.
  • Time-off protocol – Every job has a different set of rules about requesting days off, find out what yours is and follow it. If you need a day to study or there’s an event at school you want to attend, give as much notice as you can. Don’t wait until the day before, or after the schedule has been made as this will only cause conflicts with your managers and co-workers.
  • Choose wisely – When applying for jobs, be certain that you’re going for ones that will work with your schedule. Office jobs usually aren’t ideal because they’re only open from 9am to 5pm and don’t work on weekends. Instead, try retail stores and restaurants, they’re open practically every day and for longer periods of time, and they’re usually very flexible with their schedules.
  • Be clear – During the interview, be honest with your prospective employer. Don’t pretend to be available on days you know you’ll be in class or for more hours than you’re capable of working. Being up front about your situation will save you a lot of trouble down the road.
  • Priorities – If you follow every other rule, everything will fall into place and there should be no conflicts between work and school, but in the event that there is one, remember this: school comes first. That means you don’t blow off class because your boss wants you to fill in, or put in so many hours at work that you don’t have time for homework.

No matter what your job is or how much they’re paying you, if you’re a student, school should always be your top priority.

As long as you do your best and act responsibly, there’s no reason why you can’t work while going to school. And even though sometimes it can be very stressful and demanding, it’s also rewarding; you get to meet new people, make friends and learn about the working world.

Oh, and the money is also a nice perk.

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Mercedes Espinoza

Mercedes Espinoza

Mercedes Espinoza is a senior at Florida Atlantic University pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism. Although reading is her first love, writing is a close second and she can usually be found with her nose in a book or hunched over a laptop typing away. Outside of school and work, she’s interested in all things fitness as well as continuing to grow an already massive nail polish collection.