Work at a Part-Time Job

No matter what type of job you get, schedule your work hours so that they don't interfere with classes. Otherwise, you'll be rushing from one place to the other, you won't have time to study, you'll be exhausted, and you'll end up skipping classes.

Remember that your semester grades don't just reflect how well you did in class — they show how well you balanced your life. Working too much at your job can cost you. The price? A bad grade. And worse yet, a string of bad grades can land you on academic probation.

Striking a balance

Following are some ways to help you balance a part-time job with academic commitments:

  • Work as much as possible during the summer. Make as much money as you can when classes aren't in session. You'll want to stretch that money through a good portion of the school year. Once classes have resumed, plan your schedule so that you work as little as you need to.

  • Find a flexible employer. Find a job that's willing to accommodate your unique situation as a student. That means not having to select your classes based on the hours you work. This is where it's best to work for your own college, if you can. They generally tend to be more flexible with your class schedule, especially around finals week.

  • Be flexible yourself. Early in the semester, when things are quieter academically, agree to put in a few more hours on occasion if your employer needs the help. Aside from receiving more money, which will pull you through on a week when you work less, it might earn you the goodwill you need if you're going to make a special request for yourself later in the semester.

  • Give yourself a break. Students are more likely to burn out if they let their jobs consume every free moment. Have one night off for yourself — preferably during the weekend.

  • Start slowly. The best way to know your working-hour limit is to start out with a low number of hours-perhaps 8 or 10 a week-and then see how much more you can handle with everything else going on in your life. Some students can work more hours depending on their class schedules, the intensity of their classes, and their study habits. But everyone still has a limit.

The 20-hour rule

For those who work campus jobs, many schools have a "20-hour rule," in which students employed by the college can't work more than 20 hours in a given week. But that applies only to on-campus jobs — not if you work at the pizza shop down the street. Even on campus, enforcement of the "20-hour rule" may be lax, since state labor laws generally allow college-age (18 and older) students to work as much as they want because they are adults.

So while your employer may not keep a close watch on the number of hours you work, you should. Generally, working more than 20 hours is going to affect your academic performance and not allow much time for rest and relaxation.