How to find a balance between school and work

Although it has never been more important to think about earning a college degree to succeed in a challenging economy, it has also never been more expensive. Between tuition, books and the cost of living, many students choose to work part time while they study to bring in some extra cash. However, while this can be a great way to develop time management skills and gain a sense of responsibility, juggling school and work can be tough. It may be worth thinking about this even when you're filling out your college applications. What can you do to give yourself the best possible chance of success?

Before you even start looking for a part-time job, you should ask yourself some questions. Taking on a job can be a serious commitment, and if you're not prepared, it can put you under a great deal of stress. Think about whether you consider yourself to be an organized person – even working part-time can require some serious organizational skills.

Consider your own personal study habits while you look for work. If you prefer to study first thing in the morning before class, working at a job that requires an early start, like a bakery or some retail stores, probably won't be a good fit. Similarly, if you prefer to hit the books in the evenings, waiting tables might not be the best job for you, as waiters and waitresses often work late. Identifying these study habits can be a great way to start thinking about what kind of work will suit you.

Prioritizing what is most important to you is also a good place to start when you're thinking about looking for a job. Although working while you study can be a valuable life lesson, it can cut into time you could be spending in other ways, like hanging out with friends or sleeping. Some students find that earning their own income teaches them the value of money more effectively than surviving on student loans, and this is a lesson that can prove extremely valuable later on in life, so ask yourself some honest questions before committing to a job.

While you're thinking about priorities, it's important to remember that the most important thing in your academic life is your studies – although working can teach you the value of money, time management skills and give you an added sense of responsibility, you have the rest of your life to work, so don't cut classes to take on extra shifts, or race through your coursework to take on more hours. Your studies should come first. After all, isn't that why you're going to college in the first place? 

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