Whether you are a freshman who needs work to cover his tuition fees or a working adult looking for a career change or promotion, combining work and study is an important choice that will greatly influence your future.
Growing tuition fees and flexible study options encourage students to seek jobs and not take the time to understand how this choice might upset their schoolwork. However, such an important decision should not be taken lightly. Here is a list of benefits and challenges that may help you decide:
Six benefits of combining study and work:
- You get to keep your current job. This way you avoid the stress of having to find new employment in the future. At the same time, a good college degree is a great addition to your CV and may result in a promotion.
- Develop a brand new set of skills. Knowledge gained from your studies and the demands of combining study and work will play an important role in your personal and professional development. You will likely improve your time management skills, learn to set goals, keep a positive attitude and work harder.
- No worries about tuition fees. A good job is a great way to avoid debt and focus on long-term plans. With the right salary, you are able to pay the tuition fees and even save some extra cash.
- Gain invaluable work experience. The extra years of employment may open the way to better job opportunities and more advanced study programmes that require extensive work experience, such as an MBA (Master of Business Administration).
- You could still finish your studies in a short amount of time. Many students choose the more demanding full-time study option in order to avoid the extra years of studies required by part-time options. For example, a full-time master’s programme will usually require no more than 2 years of study, compared to 4 years of part-time study. However, full-time work and full-time study will test your commitment and self-discipline.
- You will not be alone. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of students choosing to study and work. This means that universities have also adapted their programmes, offering more flexible part-time and online study options. Here is a list of distance learning Bachelor's programmes.
Six challenges to combining study and work:
- You will have to find a job. If you are not already employed you will have to put time and effort into writing a CV, cover letters and taking interviews. You may find this to be significantly challenging.
- Less time for yourself and your family. Studying for a degree while working full-time might mean facing a few very demanding years, that could prove difficult for both you and your loved ones. Most likely, you will have to put many of your hobbies on hold for a while.
- More stress, less energy. This is especially true during exam periods or when asked to meet important deadlines. Students with jobs that require creativity, such as writers, may experience occasional creative blocks, due to fatigue. The great amount of work may also affect your grades.
- Less time for school activities, study groups or projects. A great part of university life is about creating new contacts and building a future professional network. Your job may interfere with your social life and require alternative means of communication, usually through online services.
- Expect the unexpected. Unpredictable events may interfere with your schedule, such as an unplanned important business meeting, working overtime or extra schoolwork.
- Beware of financial aid risks. Some universities offer financial aid exclusively to unemployed students. Holding a job might affect your scholarship eligibility. Low grades might also cancel your scholarship.
Consider your options
College studies and full-time work might seem challenging but there is a considerable number of options, which will greatly improve your chances of success. To help you push through your study-work experience, here are a few popular options:
- A work-study programme. This is a form of financial aid offered by some universities in addition to scholarships and grants. It is a way to help students cover part of their tuition fees by working on campus. However, work-study jobs offer minimum wage and usually don’t fully cover tuition fees. By working on campus, students avoid long commutes and have more time to focus on their studies.
- Part-time work or part-time study. Taking some of the pressure off either from work or study reduces stress and improves overall performance. As opposed to the work-study option, part-time work has no restrictions on salary or chosen job. Evening or night-time studies are also common options offered by most part-time study programmes. You can always choose both part-time work and part-time study to get the best of both worlds.
- Online study. Distance-learning options are increasing in popularity due to a high demand of flexible study programmes. They are a great way to save time and money and keep in contact with students and teachers through modern online technologies. Here is a list of online learning programmes under 1,000 EUR that you may find useful.
- Internships. Even though some internships might not offer a salary, they are an invaluable source of business experience and free training. A good internship is the promise of a job in a respectable company, while leaving more time for your studies.
Here are a few tips for success
- Try to get the class schedule as early as possible in order to plan ahead of time.
- Keep in contact with your classmates and find ”the inside man” to keep you updated.
- Inform your teachers and employer that you are a working student. They may be more flexible if they are aware of your situation.
- Make sure your loved ones support you. Their help will be your most valuable asset.
- Make a detailed schedule and keep it.
- Save some time for relaxation and play.
- If you feel overwhelmed, seek alternative options. Some universities may let you switch from full-time study to part-time study, mid-study year.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Give yourself small rewards for completing set goals.
- Maintain a quiet study environment.
- If you drive to work, create audio CDs with your study material. Try to keep study materials with you and don’t miss any opportunity to review them.