Working and Going to School? How to Make it Work

Student Working

You’ve got your books, your sports and extracurricular activities — and apparently, it’s very likely you have a job. Nearly 80 percent of all high school and college students work while they’re in school, according to a study by Citigroup and Seventeen magazine.

When you count just high school students age 16 older, about one out of every four are working, based on findings by the 2014 U.S. Census.

If you have a job, or plan on getting one anytime soon, follow these 5 tips on how to keep working without destroying your grades.

1.  Ask for individualized schedules. If you’re a high school student trying to earn money for college or trade school, ask for an individualized schedule that will help you graduate earlier. With a schedule that accelerates your graduation date, you could start your college studies earlier or spend more time working during the spring and summer to earn money for college funds.

Many schools, particularly online schools, will be receptive about creating a curriculum that gives you those options. Also, if you have a more flexible schedule, you may be better able to balance work and school. Talk to your guidance counselor for advice about how to structure your schedule to make sure you’re getting your credits.

2.  Be selective about extracurricular activities. While extracurricular activities look great on a college application, it’s not necessary to overdo it. Choose one or two activities that are relevant to your career choice. Remember that studying is a priority, so make sure you’re carving out time in your schedule after school and work to devote time to classwork. If you find yourself getting off track, look for ways to trim the time you spend in extracurricular activities.

3.  Analyze your reasons for working. This may not be what you want to hear, but reconsider your reasons for working if your grades are starting to suffer. If you have a specific goal in mind, like the purchase of a car, raising college funds or helping with your household’s expenses, it may be necessary to continue working 20 or more hours a week. However, if you’re working primarily to keep up with the latest fashions or movies, it may be time to cut back on the work hours, or at least find ways to better manage your time.

4.  Social life? What social life? You’ll hear plenty about work-life balance as an adult. And for good reason. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re cramming school, work, sports and extracurricular activities. Getting time with family and friends, even if it’s just 30 minutes for dinner, can help you recharge. Schedule that time accordingly.

5.  Communicate regularly with your teachers and supervisor. Whether you’re in high school or college, it’s a good habit to talk to your teachers and supervisor about the demands of your schedule. Talk openly about your reasons for working, as well as any special circumstances that may arise. More than likely, they will help you make adjustments to accommodate those demands.