Federal work-study programs allow students to work part-time, typically for the school, while attending college. Work study gives students with financial need the opportunity to earn money to pay for education expenses. There are many types of work studies in different industries, part- and full-time, and on or off campus to make the program as convenient as possible for students. Yet, many still struggle with time management as both an employee and a full-time student. Here are a few tips for balancing life in a work-study program.

Find a Flexible Job

Make sure the job you apply for understands that your schoolwork takes top priority, and there may be times you need to change your schedule to accommodate school projects, group meetings, events, or necessary study time for exams. If you know you need time off for class or homework, let your employer know as soon as possible. Working for an understanding employer can make your work-study experience much less stressful and more successful.

Master Time Management

The success of work study hinges on time management. You must intentionally and proactively manage your time to accomplish everything you need to do in a day. Break down your day into hour-long increments or shorter if necessary, and plan what you’ll do every hour. Include time you’re working, time you’re in class, time reserved for homework and studying, and time for taking breaks and eating meals. Stick to your schedule, even if you have to set alarms to remind you to switch to the next task.

Beat Procrastination

Procrastination can creep up on even the best students. Putting things off until the last minute can lead to higher stress levels and lower performance as a student and as an employee. Beat procrastination by getting started on the task at hand. Beginning a new assignment or project at work is often the hardest step. Break it down into more easily doable chunks, and then focus on completing the task one piece at a time. Be mindful of how you spend your time, and beware of time-consuming distractions that enable procrastination, such as the Internet or TV.

Take Care of Yourself

Do not neglect your health or nutrition during the tricky balance of work and school. “Freshman 15” is an expression because many college students don’t have time, money, or energy to eat healthy and exercise regularly – leading to weight gain, energy loss, and lowered self-confidence. Letting your nutrition slip to the bottom of your priority list can affect other aspects of your life, including work study. Maintain a balanced diet as much as possible, and fit in time for sports or exercise on your time management sheet.

Balance Your Work, School, and Personal Lives

College life is about finding a balance. You must learn to balance your time as a student, an employee, and as yourself. Often, school and work can consume your time and leave you feeling like you’ve lost sight of your personal life – moments spent with friends, family, or just by yourself relaxing. Making time for your personal life can help you avoid getting burned out on work study. Once you have a handle on time management, find time during the day when you can focus on your personal life. Prioritize your responsibilities, but make time for things you enjoy.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Remember why you’re putting yourself through this difficult and often stressful time – to receive your college degree. Stay focused on the finish line to find motivation while managing work study. Set your desktop background as a photo of someone graduating, or purchase something special for yourself you can only wear on your graduation day. Keeping your eyes on the prize can remind you that it’s all worthwhile.

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