10 answers

How do I keep from being overwhelmed when balancing school and my first job?

Asked Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania

10 answers

Amit’s Answer

Updated San Francisco, California

Hi Samantha,

Obtaining your first job while in college is definitely an overwhelming feeling at first, so your concern is valid. However, with proper time management and organization, you can manage school, work, and personal life. When you begin your first job, make sure you do not overload on hours, maybe start with 8-10 a week and see if it is affecting your school work. Also, make sure that you are not overloading on coursework, where it can potentially affect your job either. If, after a few weeks of work, you feel that you can handle more hours on the job, then I recommend going for more.

I am not sure of the nature of the job, but I highly recommend having a job in college that is tailored for college students. For example, when I was in college, I worked at the school library; it was a very relaxed environment, and I had the ability to do homework when there were slowdays on the job. 

Best wishes,


Amit recommends the following next steps:

  • Start with a few hours a week to see how you balance your life.
  • If you feel that you can handle more hours without affecting school work, go for it.

Carriel’s Answer


Hi Samantha,

First congrats on your first job! That's a great accomplishment and feeling of empowerment. I worked 2 jobs in high school and college so I know it can definitely be a balancing act, but it can be done. I would first suggest you scheduling one day off a week from everything. Just a day with your schedule free, no planned work, school or house work if possible. You have to take care of yourself first. Secondly, set a schedule and stick to it. You already know the days and times you have classes. Set a time to do homework with no distractions so it can get done in the time you have allotted. You may also have to search for time to do things when you would normally have been doing nothing. For example, studying on your lunch break or reading if you have down time at work. Lastly, if you're in college already only sign up for 12-15 credits or 4-5 classes at the most. This is the average number of classes and credits taken per semester. Some people try to finish faster by taking more. This is not recommended if you have to work. If you're working and want to finish faster summer classes may be a good option for you. Also if you're in college explore online classes as well. Many colleges that offer on campus classes also offer some online as well.

Darcy’s Answer


Hi Samantha!

This is a great question. When I went to school, I worked as well, and it can be challenging, but it is also a great way to get you prepared for life once you get out of school.

First - many schools have work/study options. You may want to look into that. This is a great way to work on campus, and pay for some of your expenses. Personally, when I was in school I had a couple of work study jobs that I really enjoyed - one of them was filming games for the girls Lacrosse team.

Second, if you are going to work outside of school - I would start with just a few hour a week. You want to make sure you don't overload yourself. Once you feel comfortable, you can add more hours if you feel like you can handle the workload. For me, I found it easier to figure out my school schedule and then add work hours around my class schedule. Many employers who work near colleges are pretty good about working around student hours, so don't be afraid to ask the employer for help with scheduling.

Good luck to you!

Darcy recommends the following next steps:

  • Look to see if the school you are interested in has a work-study program.

Laura’s Answer

Updated Huntsville, Alabama

Hey I know this oh to well! The first thing you want to do is set your self a SCHEDULE!!! Make sure you set your self on a weekly schedule that helps you balance PERSONAL LIFE, SCHOOL LIFE, and JOB LIFE! You know what you can handle and what you cannot. So set your self up with a structure that fits you to were its not so much that it hurts your brain or kills your life experience.

Adrian’s Answer


Hey there Samantha!

Congratulations on your new job! Also congratulations on furthering your education! I also worked while in college. Something that helped me to balance stress was having pictures of all the things that motivated me everywhere. I had a picture of my family in my apartment, pictures of homes and future vacations on the refrigerator, and a picture of my dream car in my car at the time. So establishing what we now call a vision board, should be helpful in keeping you focused on the reasons you are doing both (going to school and working). I was never one that could stick to a schedule. Something always came up at work or vice versa and that made me stressed. So you will learn, like I did,  how to prioritize the things that come up in your life and you'll be just fine! Good luck and much success with both!

Barbara’s Answer

I would definitely say make sure you have a schedule to go by with certain times set aside for you schoolwork and your job. Also I wouldn't only work part-time so you will still be able to enjoy the school activities outside of working and homework.

Diane’s Answer


Hey Samantha,

Good for you that you are assuming some responsibilities in your education.  Working while attending school is a great way to prepare for the future.  I worked while working full-time with three children so I can shed  a little light on the subject.  First of all, school is the most important factor in all of this; therefore, you have to make sure to have an idea of how many classes you are going to take per semester AND the hours needed to support your studies.  Meaning, to achieve good grades, you must put in the time in order to be on point during class and all assignments/exams you have to complete.

So...my advice would be to focus on school during the week. After classes, go to the library or any quiet study area and put in the study/assignment hours which should be at least 2 hours per class.  If you have a full load, you need to put in 24 hours of studying per week altogether.  In terms of work, please leave that for the weekend.  Even if you need to work full-time, you can do so on the weekend.  If you separate the work and school work, it will be less overwhelming.  Monday - Thursday, focus on school which means the weekend will be free to work and have fun as well. 

Laura’s Answer

Updated Charleston, South Carolina

Hi Samantha! This is a great question! The best way to balance school and work is to be sure that your employer knows your school schedule and is willing to work around that schedule.  It would even be better if they were willing to give you a set schedule for the semester so then you know that your school and work schedules will be constant and you will only need to make adjustments for assignments or other school related due dates.

Barbara’s Answer


I would definitely say make sure you have a schedule to go by with certain times set aside for you schoolwork and your job. Also I would only work part-time so you will still be able to enjoy the school activities outside of working and homework.

Eileen’s Answer


Set up a schedule that allows for some Me time that will help you not get so overwhelmed.  Mine is fishing, I take 30 minutes to 1 hour once a week just to enhance my calm and make sure that I leave some time for myself.  Do something that is for you and only you , that will help put things in perspective for you .

Hello Samantha! I think that is an awesome question! I feel that is something that we can all relate to. Time management is key to your success. You will have to learn what works best for you. I do really well with a checklist that I make for daily and weekly task. This gives me something to work towards everyday. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. It also helps me to see where I am falling short. I think it is so awesome that you are concerned about your success. With your determination you will go far!
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