How to balance a job whilst at University

We all receive a student loan, however for many of us it barely covers our rent and food basics – let alone new clothes, endless takeaways and going out every week. Over half of students in full time education have a part time job alongside their studies to help them financially , but it’s important to make sure university work comes first. Here’s help on how to make sure you keep your degree your first priority.


Be smart from the start

According to the National Association of Student Employment Service, the popular limit for a part-time job is 15 hours per week. Work out before you even apply for a job how many hours a week you can realistically manage alongside your degree, and only apply for jobs that offer these hours. Don’t accept a 20 hour a week contract just because it’s the first job offer you have or because you really want to work for that company. Once you have signed your contract it can be hard and sometimes impossible to get your hours changed. Many feel they can’t ask to lower their hours once they have signed a contract, so don’t put yourself in that situation.


Plan your time

Whether it’s watching Netflix or pre drinking and going out, we spend lots of time doing things that aren’t uni work, throw a job into the equation as well and suddenly we have less and less time time to meet our deadlines. Once you know when somethings due, note it on your calendar and plan how long that piece of work is going to take you. Make a weekly plan and make sure you stick to it. Sometimes you may feel like none of your friends are doing work and you don’t want to miss out, but they may have less work than you and it may be due later, make sure you get the work done then you can go back to having fun with them.


When to work

The time of your shifts can really affect how well you do your uni work. If you’re doing a night shift in a night club and missing your 9am lectures every week because of it, maybe it’s time to find something else. Doing seasonal work is perfect for the student lifestyle. Getting as many hours in in the Summer and then doing less hours during term time will leave you with the same amount of money and less stress.


Overtime isn’t compulsory

Some people feel guilty if they’re asked by their manager to work an extra shift and have to turn it down, but there’s no need to do so. You can legally turn it down if you are put in for more hours than your contract. Even if your work is short staffed and they need you, if you have a deadline due or an exam to revise for then just politely say you can’t do it for those reasons and they will have to find someone else. You may love the idea of the extra money but you you don’t want to end up in a stressful state trying to do all of your work at once and risking not getting the grade you deserve. Your manager knows you’re at university and will understand your degree is first priority.


Keep your manager informed

As soon as you get an exam date or an assignment due date, let your manager know and tell them you can’t work that day or the days leading up to it. You don’t want to have to turn round two days before your exam and tell your manager you can’t work that day because you forgot you had an exam. Your mind should be focused on your work and not worrying about how you’ll tell your manager you can’t do your shift.


Remember, your university experience can be the best three years of your life, with a job or without one. Having extra money to go out more and go for meals with friends can add to this experience and make it more enjoyable, but make sure your work is always first priority. You’re at university to get a degree – you can start earning lots of money afterwards!

Photo Credit: COD Newsroom via Compfight cc

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