3 Tips for working during college
College is rough. It’s one of the most expensive and time consuming things you will ever do, especially for those of us who have to find time to work to pay for college.
I’ll let you in on a little secret–I’m not a lucky one. I’ve been waiting tables 5 days a week (at least) since I started college.
With one year of college left, I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I am on track to graduate debt-free and with a decent savings account. I have somehow managed to recognize my financial needs, work a flexible job and not completely overwork myself.
If you find yourself confused, broke, and jobless at the beginning of your semester, here are some tips for working during college.
Step 1: Evaluate your financial needs
First you need to figure out your financial goals. Are you trying to make enough money to just get by, to graduate college debt-free, to actually have a savings account, or all of the above?
Next, you can figure out how much money you need to make. This is where basic knowledge of Excel will come in handy. Make a budget with embedded formulas. When your bills change or you get a raise, Excel will update your budget for you. If you’re not sure how to do this, here’s an Instructable to help. There are also apps like Spending Tracker and BillTracker that can help with this.
Go through your checking account online to get an accurate figure for how much you spend on stuff every month. You can try to guess, but you might be surprised by the reality of your spending.
Once you know how much money you need to make, you have to figure out when you will actually have time to work.
Step 2: Have a flexible schedule
Start with a flexible school schedule. Try getting all MWF or all TR classes. If that’s not possible, try getting all your classes in the morning/early afternoon so you can work at night. It will be difficult to work if you have unnecessary gaps in your schedule, random night classes, or classes throughout the whole week.
Next the fun part starts: the job hunt. Find a job that is flexible and understanding of your school schedule. Look for jobs on campus. They want to hire you and are flexible with your schedule. If you are looking for more money, try waiting tables. (It’s not as bad as Waiting depicts it. I promise.) I consider it a bad night if I make less than $15 an hour, and they have always worked with my school schedule. If you want more job ideas, start here.
Step 3: Don’t overwork yourself – find a balance
Last semester, I was taking a 15-hour school load, working five days a week, an editor at the university’s newspaper and trying to balance a crazy family life. I’ll let you in on another secret–I don’t recommend that.
I managed to stay on top of all my responsibilities and keep up a high GPA; however, I had no life and was always stressed out and sleep deprived. Learn from me and find a work and school balance.
Maybe it’s more beneficial to take out a small student loan for living expenses and just work for your spending money. Every person is different, so take some time to sit down and go through these steps to find out what works for you.