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Is attending college and working stressful? Would it all be worth it?

In order for me to live the life I always dreamed of I must go to college. I have trouble with highschool, I would like to know if college and work would be worth it in the long run.

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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Cristoval,
I can really appreciate what you are experiencing right now. I am someone who had to go to school and work at the same time.
Before I got into the details of how you handle both, I want to start with your starting phrase "In order for me to live the life I always dreamed of...". I am so excited for you that you have a goal in mind. If I could talk to you, I would want to know more. Do you have a path chosen for how to achieve that? You are going to college. Do you already know your major? What job do you have in mind? I think that this is a very important element to how hard the challenge of working and going to school will be. I hope that your goal is something that you would do even if you didn’t get paid for it. For example, I write whether I get paid or not. I love to write long, detailed birthday cards. I write stories for myself or some friends. I continue to learn about good writing and how to communicate well with international audiences. Much of this study was on my own. Now I write for a living. I am an Instructional Designer. I did not know that I would be an instructional designer when I started out. That didn’t actually come to my attention as a job until I started working. At my second job, I learned that I could teach other people the job that I was doing well. Along with teaching, I wrote it all down and shared my notes with others. I would eventually become an Instructor and then an Instructional Designer. In case you are interested, being a corporate trainer can be a well-paid job that allows you to travel a lot.

As you can see, working while I was in college actually helped me find out what I wanted to do for a living, something that makes me very happy. Now I want you to know, it took me 17 years to get my bachelor’s degree. I spent long periods of time without actually being in school, often due to long hours on a job. And for many years, I thought that I would never finish, because I didn’t need the degree to pay my bills. Then the industry that I worked in, Telecommunications, collapsed in what is called “The Dot.com bust”. I was laid off from my job. It became harder for me to find a job as an Instructor without a diploma. My dream job was now out of my reach. I turned back to finishing my degree with a vengeance. And I still had to work to pay for my education.

School is a job. It can either be a full-time job or a part time job. It depends on how long you want to take to graduate. A lot of people do not graduate in four years even though they go to four-year colleges. Reality is a bit more complicated than that. So don’t feel the pressure to graduate in four years. With full time school, you need to think about some things:
- What are you willing to miss? School takes up the time that you would normally have for family events, time with friends, and hobbies. You will miss important events.
- How good are you at making the hard choices? You need to know how not doing your homework effects your long-term goal. Does your degree program have a C grade as the lowest you can get? This is related to a master’s degree. I could not get a C in any class. It was actually considered failing and I would not get credit toward my degree.
- Does a part-time schedule work for you? If not, how can you improve your full-time school experience? I really enjoyed online classes because they kept me from having to commute back and forth to school, saving me a lot of time. And time is going to be the most important element of working and going to school. You will never feel like you have enough time.

I will tell you that getting my first degree was worth a pile of gold to me. It gave me my dream job back. And it gave me the strength to get my master’s degree in Instructional and Performance Technology. I was never going to let my dream job be out of my reach again. And I will tell you, I got hired as an Instructional Designer BEFORE I completed my master’s degree. The person who hired me said that the fact that I was in college, trying to be better was the reason that she hired me.

A little fun fact about work, it can be a competitive advantage to you in school. When I went back to college, the students around me had never worked. It showed in their answers and the way that they looked at problems. I was able to ground my homework assignments in a real-world job situation. Also, I was actually less stressed than my counterparts, because I had developed time management skills that this balance between work and school forced me to make. I think that everyone should work and go to school. You will be more prepared to step into your dream job if you do.

Good luck in college. It will be hard and so worth it!

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John’s Answer

Cristoval many young adults have chosen, especially in recent years, to embark on what is known as a GAP YEAR. It has become more common for students to take a year off between high school and college. Malia Obama, for example, drew attention when she chose to defer her enrollment to Harvard. This decision helped publicize the benefits that can result from taking a gap year.


Taking a gap year before college will allow you to perform better when you do attend college. This is due to many reasons, but the main factor is that having a year of time off between the end of high school and the beginning of college will cause you to take your education more seriously. You will see how the world operates first-hand and will understand the value of education that is placed upon individuals by society and the value of education that is inherent due to the fact that it makes an individual not only more marketable but more sympathetic to the plights of humanity. You will also be able to perform better in college in direct relation to all of the other reasons to take a gap year that made it onto this list that we will explore in greater detail.

A gap year will give you the time to think about what your passion in life really is, and what you should go to school for. There are so many students that don’t figure out what they want to do until it’s too late and they have already paid for an education, so there only options are to either stick with the career that they are able to get into with the degree they have or to go back to school and obtain yet another college degree. Not only is this costly in a monetary sense, but it is costly in the sense that these students are having to wait twice as long to enter the field that they are passionate about than it does for students that go into college knowing exactly what their career plans are. They are also either putting themselves into further debt without advancing towards their chosen career any, or are stuck in a non-rewarding job as opposed to an enriching career.

Along with volunteering, taking a gap year before college will also give you the time to obtain an entry-level job or internship. This is a wonderful way to obtain work experience that will not only serve you well during your time in college, but will also make it easier for you to obtain a career after graduation. This proves that you not only have the knowledge to be successful in your career but that you also have the work ethic and experience to be successful. Employers will be a lot more likely to hire you if you have work experience–even if it is just entry-level or an internship–than they would someone that holds only a degree. This is because having prior work experience makes you a lower-risk new hire than someone that has no previous work experience.

There’s a lot of new life skills one can learn in a year. By taking a gap year before college, you could learn a new language or find a new hobby. You can also learn new skills such as drawing, technical writing, cooking or public speaking. These skills will not only give you something enjoyable to do, they will also be things that you can draw from in your professional life or personal life after graduation. A skill such as a second language or being able to speak in public can greatly benefit most professionals and give them an edge in their careers. Other life skills such as getting a new hobby can help you in your personal life, as it can give you something to do to relax and enjoy. Some popular hobbies that could benefit a student are yoga, writing and drawing. Even playing video games can boost an individual’s spatial memory and hand-eye coordination.

Burnout is when you have done something for so long that you start paying less attention to it and start looking for ways to avoid it. This is obviously not conducive to a successful college experience, so being able to take a gap year will give you the time off that you need to recuperate and enter your college life refreshed and ready to learn. A lot of students that do not take a gap year claim to suffer from burnout to some degree, which negatively impacts their studies and makes them more apt to skip school or spend too much time partying. Why would you pay for school if you’re not going to give it your all? A gap year before college will help you to avoid this burnout and help you to be more successful in college, which will lead to you being more successful after college.

Overall, with all of the hobbies, life skills, independence, responsibility, work experience and traveling that you can achieve in your year-long gap before college, you will become a more well-rounded person. Being more well-rounded is something that can create so many positive opportunities in your life, and it’s a goal that you should strive for. By taking a gap year before college, there are so many things that you can do, achieve and see, all of which will lead to a more enjoyable and successful college experience and a more rich and rewarding life overall. For these reasons, among many others, we highly suggest students give taking a gap year before college a serious look before diving right into the next chapter of their lives.

Hope this was Helpful Cristoval

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Bryce’s Answer

Working in college is definitely possible, but it takes discipline, hard work and time management. When thinking about working in college my best advise would be to figure out your school schedule first. Once you figure out your school schedule and determine how much time you will have to dedicate to school, then you can make the decision to work or not. When I came into college I decided I wasn't going to work the first semester, so I could get my feet grounded and have a better feel of what to expect from college. This worked out great for me and as I enter my senior year I have worked every semester without seeing major impacts to school work. Time management is a big reason why I have had success. You have to have a schedule and you have to stay to it. You must put in time for homework. You cannot work every time you have free time. If you become mentally or physically exhausted take a day off of work.

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Tyson’s Answer


My answer may seem simplistic, but I do believe it is as easy as it seems. First Identify your passion or passions. Whatever it is that gives you that burning desire. Once you have identified your passion, find a major or career that aligns with your passion. If you can do that one simple thing, or that one thing that seems simple, you will live the life that you desire.

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Christopher’s Answer

College is no doubt tough. To be realistic, college is not for everyone, whether they plan on going or not. However, there is also no doubt that for some professions, a college education is a must. In the end, it's all up to you, screw what others think but a little advice doesn't hurt. As a current senior college, even I am asking the same question but that is only because I don't feel like I have involved myself as much as I should've in my previous years. If I were you, I'd get involved with many groups or clubs as I can to not only make friends but to build your professional network.

Christopher recommends the following next steps:

Talk to friends
Talk to family
Talk to faculty
Give it a try
You decide

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Vene'e’s Answer

I would say that working and attending college teaches quite a deal of responsibility. I actually worked 20+ hours a week while taking 16+ credited classes and it can be stressful. I would say if you have the ability to not work and focus solely on your studies then I would do so. Although I was able to maintain my grades, those nights in library after work until 1 and 2am would have been cut short. I hope this helps someone.

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Gwyn’s Answer

Hi Cristoval,

I worked full-time while in school full-time; it was hard at points, but so worth it in the end. You need to have strong time management and clearly communicate your school commitments to your employer. Try to find a job on campus as their schedules are flexible and enable you to make more connections on campus. Another alternative is to find a job that is similar to your degree or area of study, so you are able to work somewhere that ties into your career goals and builds your resume for future employment.

It can be difficult, but is very worth it in the end!

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Hassan’s Answer

I think it comes down to your personal situation. If you have to work to support yourself then that's your base requirement. If you can handle extra classes on top of that then it's likely well worth getting a degree even if it takes years.

If you google it, you'll find many sources like https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereknewton/2018/10/01/college-graduates-are-177-times-more-likely-to-earn-4-million-or-more/ that say on average college graduate earn hundreds of thousand $s more than High School graduates over their lifetimes.

I'd suggest taking small steps like taking a single class in addition to working. That way you keep making progress since it's often harder to start school again once you stop.

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Pat’s Answer

Hi Cristoval,

Attending college and working can be stressful. For me personally it was worth it. Bryce's answer here is very practical. Time management is the key to making it work and making it less stressful. It's great you have the motivation to consider working and going to college.

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Trevor’s Answer

It can be stressful but teaches great life lessons. I worked (20-30 hours per week) and went to business school at the same time. I was lucky in that I had a really good part-time job that I enjoyed. What I learned the most was how to manage my time, value money, and focus on developing as a person. I would suggest that while working and going to college at the same time is a scary proposition, I felt proud of my accomplishments and that I was doing something productive with my life!

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Cristoval! I think working and going to college is definitely a beneficial duo! I worked three jobs in college and I think it made me a more efficient and mature person. The two jobs I had were on my college campus so it was definitely easy in terms of commute and getting my school work complete. I think it's important to balance your classes and time manage your work and school life. I was a waitress as well and the connections and the experiences I had will always stay with me; having my customers come see me every week and get to know me was very important and a great experience. It is difficult to sometimes manage work and school and at times I did wish I could only go to school, but looking back I am pleased to have worked in all my jobs. It is just important to always make sure you can keep up with your school work; also if you can find employment opportunities fitting in with your career goals that is also helpful! My friend found a couple jobs that fit in with her goals, so she was not only receiving experience for her career in the future but also being able to get a paycheck to help with her necessities. I wish the best for you!