How to Handle Working Full-Time and Going to College

By Tamiera Vandegrift on November 9, 2018

With the cost of college tuition at absolutely staggering heights, it’s no wonder why so many students choose to work their way through school. Part-time jobs are extremely common among college students, but what about full-time jobs?

Working part-time while taking college courses is a challenge all on its own, so working full-time seems downright impossible! Fortunately, there are ways to manage working a full-time job alongside college coursework without completely burning out. There are also quite a few benefits to doing so!

For instance, you will already have a reliable source of income in place, which will make it easier to afford tuition and other fees. Many students take on full loads of coursework and use student loans to afford them. You will be able to study without the black cloud of student loan debt looming over your head. Granted, you might have to take out some loans, but it won’t be your only source of financial aid. You will also be able to gain real-world skills and maintain a professional mindset all throughout your collegiate and professional career. One thing that shocks many college students is the adjustment period between being a full-time student and moving towards working full-time. You will already be ahead of the curve.

So, even though working full-time while taking college classes is definitely a heck of a challenge, there are a ton of benefits to doing so. So, how can you manage working full-time while also taking a full load of classes without losing your mind?  Keep reading to find out!


Organize Your Schedule In Advance

Academic advisors typically encourage students to fill out their calendars and organize their due dates at the beginning of each semester so that there are no surprises when it comes to due dates and other important deadlines. If you plan on working full-time while juggling coursework, this will be a necessity for you as well. Time is a valuable thing and when you’re pressed between a load of classes and a full-time position, you will absolutely need to prioritize your time effectively.

Set up a schedule at the beginning of each semester and mark down all deadlines, meetings, test dates, projects, and assignments right away. Do not allow anything academia-related to sneak up and bite you halfway through the semester. Be sure to also mark down any important dates or schedule changes related to your job, if you haven’t already. Check for conflicts early so that you can do your best to manage them well ahead of time. Working full-time and taking classes is the furthest thing from a cakewalk, but if you keep your schedule organized and stay on top of your deadlines and assignments, you will be able to survive and thrive through the struggle.

Establish A Support System

Speaking of struggle, it’s hard for anyone to get by without a little help. Working full-time while taking any college coursework is going to be stressful and maybe even completely overwhelming sometimes. For the sake of your own mental and physical health, you should not try to soldier through all of this hardship by yourself. Instead, keep your family and friends in the loop. Keep them updated with what is happening in your classes and in your job. Let them know that their support will be crucial during this time. Having a strong support system will make a huge difference in both your academic and professional performance as well. When you’re stressed and overwhelmed, that can definitely have an effect on your work. Aside from that, you and your wellbeing should always come first when it comes between matters of academics and career aspirations.

Working full-time and taking college classes does not have to be a nightmare. Be sure to communicate any difficulties you may be having with your manager, coworkers, academic advisors, and professors. These people want to see you succeed and they will do everything in their power to help you get there. Never be afraid to ask for help.

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Communicate Effectively With Others

On that note, let’s talk about communication. Communication absolutely makes the world go ‘round and we would be nowhere without it. If you don’t communicate with the people around you while you’re working full-time on top of taking any amount of college coursework, you will be going nowhere fast.

Out of respect for your professors, managers, and sanity, you should be keeping everyone around you in the loop of what you’re planning to accomplish. For one thing, you will have support and assistance throughout the process if things go wrong and it will relieve some of the stress of juggling two huge commitments. If you know that you will need to miss a day of work or class, communicate that with your professor or manager as soon as possible. Discuss multi-tasking with your manager and if they would be open to you working on assignments or studying during your downtime at work. Share your syllabus or class schedule with your manager. If an exam or huge due date falls on an important day of work, talk to both your professor and manager to see what can be done. More than likely, your teachers and supervisors will respect you for taking on so much at once and do whatever they can to help you succeed, but it’s your job to respect them by keeping them informed about your schedule and not dropping the ball on them at the last minute for any reason.

Consider Registering For Online Classes

A lot of the challenges of working full-tme and taking classes could be lessened if you take online courses. These courses do not require you to attend a physical lecture and you can squeeze in the work around your free time. You won’t have as much of a hard time balancing and managing your time. A lot of universities offer distance learning or fully online degree programs. This will save you a ton of time and the headache of managing so much at once.

Remember Why You’re Doing It

Being a college student and working full-time are huge challenges on their own. When you mix the two together, it definitely seems like it could be impossible. However, you should never get discouraged. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and how it will all be worth it in the end. Your full-time job will help you maintain a professional mindset and attitude while you’re in school and at the same time, you will be ahead of all of your other fellow graduates. Earning your degree will open up the door to an entire world of new opportunities.

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Working full-time and taking a full load, half load, or even a quarter load of college courses is no small task. You will be pressed for time and energy, but if you stay organized, prioritize your mental health, communicate with the people around you, and keep the end result in mind, you will have climbed a heck of a professional mountain and all you will have left to do is sit back and enjoy the view. Good luck!

Tamiera is an alumna of Florida State University, having earned a BA in Editing, Writing & Media and a BA in Digital Media Production. Tamiera is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter, inspired by the works of Lars von Trier, David Fincher, and Darren Aronofsky. She is also a proud Alpha Chi Omega. Tamiera has previously written for the FSView and Florida Flambeau, College Magazine, and more. She has recently published a creative thesis containing short stories based on mental illnesses in the media. Currently, Tamiera is pursuing her MA in Creative Writing. In the future, Tamiera aspires to win "Best Original Screenplay" or "Best Picture" at the Academy Awards with one of her film projects. Besides writing and storytelling, Tamiera enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with friends, and geeking out over movie trivia.

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