Tips for working while in college

Smart ways to help your kids balance work and college.

Chances are, they've got a pretty full plate. 8am classes. 20-page research papers. Finals week. All of these things sound stressful enough, but imagine throwing a full or part-time job on top of those school responsibilities. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2016, about 9 in 10 recent high school graduates who were enrolled in college were full-time students. Of those, 38.4% were working or looking for work. And as the price of higher education increases, more and more students will likely be looking for college scholarships, part-time work from home jobs and other flexible options that’ll allow them to pay for college expenses themselves.

It can be difficult helping your child figure out how to balance work and college, but there are ways they can learn to properly manage their time and successfully attend class, study, work and even have free time with friends.

Benefits of working while in college

Having a packed life might be stressful, but there are actually numerous benefits to juggling a full schedule. First, your college student can learn how to effectively manage their time. This will be crucial once they graduate and are out in the real world, working full-time and balancing everything that comes with adulthood: career, family and friends.

And with the increasing cost of college, many students are using loans to pay their way through school. The average student in 2016 racked up $37,172 in debt. However, another benefit of working while in college is that it allows your child to potentially payoff these loans faster. Bonus: This leads to less accrued interest on the life of the loan overall, so they’ll end up paying less. 

Maybe your child is lucky enough to score a paid internship in their major, which could lead to employment opportunities down the road because they’re learning career skills while building their resume. This can also help with future networking possibilities.

Disadvantages of working while in college

Having a jam-packed schedule is not without its drawbacks. Missing out on time with friends and family is common, as it can be challenging to make time for fun while balancing homework, classes and a job.  

Working while in college might be especially difficult for someone who’s not good at time management. Maintaining a schedule and making time for studying, classes and work make it tough to balance and manage if students aren’t used to keeping a strict schedule.

Plus, there’s the stress. Many people find that having free time can be essential for mental health, but it’s not always an option. No days off with no time to relax and de-stress could take its toll.

How to balance work and college

Finding a flexible job is key. It’s the best way to figure out a schedule that makes work and school fit together. There are a lot of flexible work options out there for your child, such as:

  • Working on campus
  • Finding part-time work from home
  • Freelance or contract jobs
  • Paid internships

School should always come first. So, finding a job that accommodates their schedule or even allows them to work the hours they want, when they want, can allow your child to balance their time like a boss. Having a set number of hours to work in a week and not going overboard helps, too.

Time management tips for college students

Managing time is a skill to be learned; it’s not something that comes naturally to everyone.

Here are a few ways your child can learn and manage time:

  • Effectively plan study time
  • Choose an organizing tool
  • Set up a life schedule and establish priorities
  • Set time aside to rest, recharge and have fun
  • Don’t take on too much

College students need to stick to a schedule, but they’ll also learn that unexpected events can pop up. And they’ll need to plan accordingly. Life happens, so it’s best to add a bit of extra time into schedules just in case.

Your child should also schedule time to take care of themselves, whether it’s by mentally taking a break or getting some physical exercise (like going for a jog with friends). They should be prepared to hunker down during midterms and finals and then make time to celebrate accomplishments.

Budgeting tips for college students

Like time management, budgeting is something learned and it’s often not taught in school. In order to save, it’s important to recognize where money is going and set boundaries and limits on what is spent each month. Have your child lay everything out on paper so they can see what’s outgoing and what’s incoming. A simple budgeting spreadsheet will do the trick. Some apps can even help you see where they’re overspending and offer suggestions on how to cut back.

Parents could also make their child an authorized user to help monitor spending. 

Certain issuers, like Capital One, also provide eligible authorized users with online access. That means your student can practice responsible habits, such as tracking their spending and making online payments. Plus, your good credit can influence theirs, so you’ll be starting them off on the right foot.

With a little patience and some newly acquired skills, your college student will be thriving at school. They’ll be able to work and have fun, and their wallet will be much happier for it.

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