The Art of Balancing Work and School

The thought of growing up and being able to do the things we want is always exciting…until it actually happens. This thought ran through my mind as I entered a new chapter of my life: College. Going to college fills you with the excitement of moving into school and making new friends. But it also meant that I had to take more responsibility for my finances, which was not an easy feat when paired with college life.

Venturing Into Unknown Lands

Entering college is an entirely new ball game. There were no longer fixed timetables arranged for us or teachers who constantly supervised our learning process. In fact, students have a great degree of autonomy in planning our academic schedule. Since college offers students the freedom of planning their own schedule, many choose to take up a job in the spare time they have. This was normal practice among college students, and I was no different.

The job you get may be one that suits your interest, such as working in a cafe, bakery or bookstore. I managed to get a job in a warehouse near school. While I had my own fair share of part-time jobs in the past, I might have overestimated my ability as a relatively strong and fit young adult. Contrary to my expectations of being paid for simply lifting and moving things around, I realized that the true challenge in this job was having to locate where the products were. As a newcomer to this line of work, all the rows and shelves looked the same to me and I was going around in circles simply trying to figure out where things were.

Thankfully, the warehouse used a system called rfid inventory management that allowed us to quickly track the location of products. Some older coworkers told me horror stories of how they had to memorize the location of products and ensure that they did not lose track of them before the system was implemented. It is safe to say that without it, I might not have lasted as long there.

Adulting Means there are Fees to Pay

Having a job in college was more challenging than I had expected. Especially during final week, the rigor and stress of the college system truly put me to the test. From my experience, personal motivation to study is important in the college academic system. Compared to being taught by the same teacher for a single subject in high school, when you take courses in college, the different professors will not nag you about homework or examinations. This does not mean that they are uncaring towards your education. However, they are far too busy to be personally involved in the progress of every single one of their students. Studying in college is a largely independent process, and no one can hold your hand throughout it.

Even though it was difficult at times, the stress of school does not hinder most from taking up a job. In a 2017 study, it was found that 43 percent of full-time college students were employed. This might have borne out of necessity, as there are many things in college that need to be paid for, such as on-campus housing and meal plans. However, the ability to pay for nice meals out and trips with friends with the money I earned myself also brought great satisfaction. While these jobs might only be a short-term commitment, there are many things that can be learnt. Personally, I learned about the existence of inventory management, which became my savior in that job. Other friends who took up jobs in the service industry and realized how truly difficult it was, or how to work in stressful environments. These might not seem significant, but they are experiences we gained, which allowed us to learn and grow in our own way.

Party People…or Not

Having a job in college does not mean that you spend all your time either working or studying. With good time management, there are plenty of opportunities to socialize and have fun with friends. There are parties held in college that allow for people to meet and hang out in relaxed settings. However, even if drinking is not your cup of tea, there are other ways to have a good time. In the pockets of free time I had, I enjoyed visiting nearby streets and cafes with my friends. Studying in quaint cafes that overlook the streets with a cup of coffee by my side were some of my favorite moments of respite.

These are the moments that will be part of my memorable experiences in college. It might be ironic that these moments are not within the college itself, in the end, what truly makes up the college experience is the people you spend it with. There are a variety of clubs and societies offered, ranging from academic societies to sports to performing arts. There is a place for everyone in college where we can interact with people who share the same interests. Getting a job also provides the same opportunity. You can meet people of different backgrounds with much more life experiences. They can offer you insightful advice as you progress in college and in life.

The prospect of working while studying might seem demanding, but balancing work and school is a manageable feat. Work is an avenue which presents opportunities for new experiences and meaningful relationships.