You know how they make you fill out those forms at the doctor’s office, where they ask you what your occupation status is, and you just sit there contemplating whether you should put down that you’re a student, or put down one of the several part-time positions you have? I personally have found myself in this situation rather frequently, and from talking to other fellow students, I know that I’m not alone. As graduate students, many of us wear several different hats, as our professional responsibilities extend far beyond just that of a student. After all, rent and tuition, along with other life expenses, are very real, and we do our best to address them as best as we can. So how exactly do you have a healthy work/school balance? I’m not going to lie- it’s challenging at first, but it’s very manageable. I’ll share a couple tips/lessons I’ve learned from being a full-time student and working part-time jobs.
- Do a consistent inventory of your time. Before you add something else to your plate, make sure you can afford to devote time to it. Given that the REAL positions are largely part-time, it’s really easy to underestimate how much time it will actually take. I personally have made this mistake, and I know several friends who have done the same. The job descriptions will say “10-12 hours” so it’s easy to think that you could easily manage 2 of them on top of classes… but be aware that some jobs can definitely take way longer than you realize, and when all the work piles up and overlaps with tests and papers, you’ll be wishing you had been more aware of time constraints earlier!
- Overloading is counterproductive. Going off the previous point… I also made this mistake! Being at Rollins is overwhelmingly amazing in the best way. There are opportunities at every corner for professional development. I remember feeling like a kid in a candy store, because I had so many interests I wanted to explore, and I felt like 2 years would not be enough. But I quickly realized that if you truly want to see if you enjoy something, you need to give yourself time to fully be committed to it. Otherwise, you end up completely overloaded, without the full opportunity to enjoy each experience, and that sets you up for burnout. Try to limit yourself to one or two things, and just let that be your focus of the semester/year, so you have time for yourself and school!
- Make time for you. As cliché as it sounds, I felt this had to be said, because it’s so easy to forget, in the hustle and bustle of schoolwork and your job(s). Recognize that you’re human, and you need time to eat, sleep, spend time with friends/family, and to just be you. Work and school will always be there, but your health and well-being are the most important, so be sure to always make time for that.
Overall, working and doing school full-time seems initially daunting, but as you get more comfortable with classes as well as your job, you’ll soon find it incredibly exciting. You’re learning, you’re growing, and you’re discovering the path you want to follow. Don’t worry- you can do it! You might just need a couple moments of trial and error to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t, but once you do, you’re well on your way to success… and there’s no better place to do it, than at Rollins! You got this.