Student Life: Combining Work and Study

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As university tuition fees have skyrocketed over the past few years, more and more students are considering getting a part-time job. In fact, according to research 77 per cent of university students are working while studying. Apart from the monetary benefits of having a job as a student, it can also help kick-start a student’s career. As most students have a hard time getting a job after university due to their lack of employability skills, this can be an excellent way to boost those skills and your CV.

Even if your last job was completely irrelevant to the career you want to pursue, it can give you an advantage in the cut-throat world that is the job market today. But, one of the most common problems students who choose this path face is that they are unable to pay as much attention as they should to their studies. The key is to find the right balance and create a solution that will allow you to excel at both.

Potential Problems

Even working part-time can leave you feeling depleted of energy and devoid of time, and this could ruin your chances of doing well at university.

A huge part of University is making new friends and upping your social skills, so you need to ensure that you are building those interpersonal skills by having a normal university experience. Also, having friends and spending time with them will help you unwind which can be essential if you are stressing about everything else. You shouldn’t sacrifice your social life to work longer hours.

Potential Solutions

The solution, of course, is not to avoid taking up a job while at university as there are many benefits to consider. Rather, the answer is to find ways that will allow you to be more effective at both aspects of your life.

1. Become a Master Time-Manager

The key is to learn to manage your time efficiently and to stick to your schedule. To do that you need to carefully plan your classes, the time you need for studying, as well as your shifts at work and outings with friends. The problem, of course, is that life can be quite hard to predict so you might not always be able to stick to your pre-designated schedule, but as long as you update your schedule regularly and stick to it faithfully you should be able to divide your time between work, study and social life effectively.

2. Have a Talk With Your Boss and Tutors

Although you shouldn’t expect special treatment from your boss or your tutors, there’s no harm in talking to them about your responsibilities. If nothing else it will help make them more understanding about your situation, but you should be very careful to establish that you don’t have any special requirements. Never ask for a deadline extension, for example, because you ‘had to pick a couple of extra shifts’ and never call your boss at the last minute to tell them that you won’t be showing up for work because you have a major deadline the following morning. Manage your time properly so that these emergencies never occur.

3. Be Careful When Selecting a Job

There’s a good chance that there won’t be great availability of positions for a young student, especially if you are looking for something close to campus to help reduce commuting costs, but even if that’s the case, you should still ensure that the work you do does not interfere with your studies. You should avoid taking on a job that’s very demanding or that take time away from your studies.

4. Reduce Your Hours Work During Exams

Although university is always quite demanding, it can be even more so during the exam period and as your grades for most modules will depend heavily on exam results you need to dedicate some time and energy to focus on studying. It’s, therefore, important to come to some sort of agreement with your boss beforehand that during exam time you are going to need to work fewer hours. Most bosses will agree to this arrangement, especially if you work on campus, as things tend to slow down during exams in general.

5. Make Time to Unwind

To balance both work and study you should add unwinding to your schedule. It’s important to learn to appreciate what relaxing and resting can do for you early on as you won’t get far if you push yourself too much. Dedicate some time to not worrying about work or studying every day and make sure that you meet up with your friends on a weekly basis. It’s also a good idea to take a trip every now and then.

6. Increase Your Self-Discipline

Perhaps one of the most important employability skills that you can gain while working through university is self-discipline. Much like time management, self-discipline speaks to your personal development, but it can also help point out to any potential employer that you were disciplined enough to get through university while working which means that you know how to manage your time and prioritise your studying as well. It’s, essential to remain focused on your degree and make the most of your academic experience as well as this will help win you points with any potential employer.

7. Never Miss Class

There isn’t a single student who hasn’t skipped class thinking that they’ll borrow notes from a friend, but you should never skip classes because you have to work. You should keep clear lines between the two, and never forget that university should be your number one priority. Bear in mind that you have plenty of years to become a great employee after university and during your brief time as a student you need to focus on getting everything that this experience has to offer.

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Refuse Extra Work

If you are a great employee, there’s a good chance that your boss will take an interest in you and push you to work longer hours and although you might be enticed by the extra money you should think twice before taking on any more hours. Your program has to be built around your classes and responsibilities and by reducing the time you have available for those you could be hurting your academic achievements. If you have a couple of extra hours ensure that you are using them to connect with yourself and unwind from all the stress in your life, so don’t add to it by picking up extra work.


Working and studying can be successfully combined, and they can offer many benefits to the student who’s looking to put his or herself ahead of the competition by increasing their employability skills and boosting their CV. To be successful in this quest, however, you need to build up skills that will allow you to be more effective in your personal development. As such, it’s important to learn how to manage your time and how to discipline yourself as these two skills will help keep you focused on your school work and also become an effective employee.

Do you have any other advice for students who are working while studying? Share it with us in the comment section below.

See Also: How to Gain Work Experience at University