Many international students feel overwhelmed while trying to strike a balance between their academics and job. It’s not like you can forgo of your job because let’s face it; it is very expensive to study in US. The expenses for housing, food, tuition and additional costs can be exorbitant. Therefore, students seek employment opportunities to ease off some burden. But it is important that you do not get so involved in your work that you neglect the sole reason of coming to U.S., i.e. your education, and more importantly your health. Learn to balance work life and college life and how to stay healthy while working. Here are some methods for striking the right balance between your work and college effectively:
- Improve your time management skills – It is vital for college students to learn the art of time management. In the US colleges and universities students are required to read fast and learn quickly. Therefore, set aside specific time each day to study. Keep that time dedicated only for your academics. Remember that you’ve come to US for education so being a student must be your priority. Find a job opportunity with a schedule that is accommodating to your schooling so that you can attend your classes without any hassle.
- Plan your academic path – Mapping out your academic program can do wonders to ease off student’s burden. Decide on how many courses you want to take up to finish a program. Find out when they are offered and plan a multiyear schedule. Figure out in which direction you want to go and set goals for yourself. Do not take on so many courses at once while working simultaneously as it will not only affect your academics and you might also end up losing the job for not devoting enough time.
- Prioritize and be Realistic – Set realistic goals for yourself. It is important to understand that if you have too many things on your plate you will not get enough time to do everything. It is therefore crucial to prioritize and realize that some things will have to change. Figure out what is more important and how much time you can invest in it.
- Keep your manager in the loop – Keep your manager updated on your study schedule. They understand that college life in USA can be especially tough for international students. Most employers will be understanding and supportive of your efforts as long as you don’t hide anything and keep them up to date on your comings and goings. Also keep them in loop if you need any specific times off for study, if you will be arriving early or late to make up time for, if there will be any disruptions to your work schedule. This will help you a great deal to balance work life.
- Use a Planner – Organizing is the key. The best and the easiest way to do it, is by using a Planner. Writing down your agendas and appointments will help you to see an overview of your day, week and month. This will not only help you in keeping track of your schedule but also you will know exactly when your free time is, so you can schedule your study sessions.
- Keep your work and school separate – Do not obsess over your work when you’re at class or worry about your pending assignments while you’re at work. Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t bring your notes and books to your work and don’t bring your work stuff to school. This will only create a chaos. Keep your work and college life separately. Give your 100% to whatever you’re doing at the moment.
- Take frequent breaks – College life in USA can be extremely and when you add in the pressure of work, it can take a toll on anyone’s health. Give yourself time to pull yourself together when you think it’s getting too much, so that you can return to school and work with a clear head. Go for a walk and take some fresh air, listen to music, read a good book or watch some TV. Try to take a 5-10 minutes break after every couple of hours to relax.
- Take full advantage of your Commute – People mostly have at least a 20 minutes commute. Utilize this time by getting some studying done. Put your study material on the flashcards and review them when you come to stop lights (Not while driving), you can also download audio versions of your textbooks and listen to them as you drive, record your lectures using your cell phone and listen to them while you drive.
- Seek help from others – If you feel that you’re withdrawing from your social circle, increasingly irritable, getting too much anxious, and emotionally strained etc, try to talk to your friends or family members. You can even consult a professional counselor. Many colleges provide therapists, counselors, advisors that help students through their issues.
- Capitalize on school flexibility – Many universities these days are providing services such as night and weekend classes, extended library or bookstore hours and even online courses for students to help them balance work life.
- Increase your work hours gradually – It’s advisable to build up your work schedule slowly but steadily. Do not go in for full 15 hours a week right from the start. Try to avoid working during the first half of your freshman year to get accustomed to your new life, your college and studies. Then gradually, start working for few hours per week. By your third or fourth semester you will be ready to take on a schedule that involves 12 or more hours of work each week. By this time you will learn the art of juggling your job, studies and social life.
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Conclusion: By following these tips you will learn How to balance work and college life effectively. Remember to not strain yourself too much. Your college life in USA should be an experience to cherish and not an ordeal.
Max Troy is the Career Counsellor as well as a passionate Author. Well, he has years of experience in the Career and Jobs industry. As a part of his career at OPTnation, he helped various OPT and CPT candidates to shape their Career. Through his knowledge and writing skill, he is contributing to the students to find the best Career advice and immigration topics. Do share the information if you like it.