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The harsh reality of working while in college

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You’re still expected to study, complete assignments and put in the same amount of hours as non-working students.

Nothing’s worse than having to check your bank account every time you pay for a tank of gas or counting down the days until your next paycheck comes through.

If you’re a college student, chances are that you’ve faced this reality at some point and found yourself struggling simply to get by. For many students, college can start to turn into a game of balancing shifts and classes within their schedules. However, this game is far from fun.

Every student’s situation is different. Some may not have to worry about money, some might be lucky enough to receive help from their parents and others don’t have a choice but to work while in school. While some may flourish and perform well with this heavy workload, most students in this situation are put at a huge disadvantage.

In college, students are all held to the same standard, except for a few exceptions. It doesn’t matter what struggles or hardships you face outside of the classroom. You’re still expected to study, complete assignments and put in the same amount of hours as non-working students.

“Remember a general rule of thumb is to leave approximately two to three hours of study time for each credit hour spent in class,” Clemson University’s resources page for health professions advising suggests. “For example, if a student carries 15 credits during the semester, plan approximately 30-45 hours in study and course preparation time outside the classroom. This amounts to a full-time job!”

If you’re a college student, this is an idea that you’ve probably seen on multiple occasions under a professor’s syllabus for a class. You may have also seen it written as the 1:2 or 1:3 ratio, which means, “every hour you spend in class, you should plan to spend two to three hours out of class working independently on course assignments,” according to Lumen.

That means that if you’re taking a class that meets for one hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you’re expected to dedicate six to nine hours to that class outside of class time.

Sure, this is doable for a student who doesn’t have other commitments outside of school, but for those with jobs, this automatically sets you up for failure. Not to mention, if that student is also participating in clubs or organizations outside of class, there just aren’t enough hours in a day to fit everything.

However, many students still manage to juggle all of this, but at a cost.

“One study showed that 70% of college students are stressed about finances,” according to an article by Mental Health America. “With work, school, activities, and friends all demanding attention, many students struggle with balancing and prioritizing the different areas of their lives.”

This balancing act can lead to increased stress, anxiety and chance for burnout. However, quitting your job isn’t an option for most, so it’s important to find ways to manage your stress.

There are lots of resources available online with tips and tricks to minimize the negative side effects of working while in school.

It’s important to meet your basic needs, which include getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, drinking plenty of water, exercising and socializing, according to the same article by Mental Health America.

If you’re struggling to meet these basic needs, it may be time to make some necessary cuts so that you can have time for lunch, to take a nap or to chat briefly with a friend. Doing this will make a significant difference in your day-to-day life and health.

It’s important to also make time for yourself in order to give yourself and your brain a break. Small things like going for a walk, listening to music, coloring or just talking with a friend on the phone can be really helpful.

If you find yourself still overwhelmed and feel like you may need further assistance, do not hesitate to reach out to Clemson’s Counseling and Psychological Services department. You can contact them directly by phone at 864-656-2451 and start receiving help today. Working while in college isn’t easy, and it’s okay to utilize these resources.

Madison Akers is a senior communication major from Easley, South Carolina. You can reach her at [email protected].

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Madison Akers
Madison Akers, Asst. Opinion Editor
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