By Vikas Rana
Balancing studies, work and personal commitments can be a challenge for new and experienced students alike, forcing many to prioritise some commitments over others. Work life and studies rarely align, so students are often forced to completely re-arrange their schedules and daily plans to better accommodate both commitments, leaving little time for anything else.
Students with these constraints can find solace in planning out their workloads, altering their work life or even reducing the amount of time they relax each week, but these simple strategies may not be enough. There are many ways a student can alter their workload and reach a near perfect balance between their commitments by understanding the requirements of each and finding creative solutions to their problems.
Choosing full-time or part-time study
Deciding on how many units to take on during a semester or trimester can be one of the most daunting decisions in determining whether you — a student — will have enough time to attend to other commitments. Some students may be able to work past this, but for students with less time on their hands, studying part-time is usually the only option available unless the person decides to take on online or supplementary study regiments.
However, some students may be required to study full-time if they take out a HECS-HELP loan as part of their loan agreement compared to students who study part-time. Those who are able to study part-time can choose to study a minimum of 1-2 courses per semester, which is a great way to regulate a healthy work/life balance.
Students with major commitments such as working a job or dealing with other commitments such as family matters may be overwhelmed if they study full-time, yet students who properly plan out their studies and work by working during evenings or during semester breaks may be able to manage.
Taking advantage of the utilities your university offers can make a world of difference and free up a lot of time for students who have more hectic schedules. Students who live a fair distance from their campus or who simply can not afford the costs of travel can study online if their course allows it, as well as catch up on missed lessons if unable to attend university every day.
Professors are usually able to record their lessons for students who cannot always attend classes through lecture capture programs or email course content directly to a student. Inquiring about these recordings with your professor and discussing your situation can help lessen the load of studies and allow you to be more flexible.
Workshops and tutorial classes are also a great way to catch up, as some courses conduct a few tutorials and workshops at different times and on different days of the week to best suit their students’ commitments. Making sure to take advantage of these varying tutorial and workshop times when planning courses can be the best way to make sure your studies do not interrupt your work life.
Changing course of faculty
Students who have successfully completed their first year of study will have the option to transfer between study units and even between faculties — as long as they meet the required prerequisites.
An application for changing courses or faculties can often be completed online and students of specific study areas, such as the arts faculty, often have an easier time transferring course credits to similar fields.
As a student, it is important to discuss potential alterations to your studies with a student advisor and your professors so they can best direct you and inform you on what you must do to succeed.
When to work
Our experts at Find Jobs suggests that students who work and study need to find a perfect balance where both commitments do not encroach on each other’s time. Understanding how much time your studies will require each week will give you a good idea of whether you will be able to work while studying.
Students studying full-time often take on evening or weekend work while studying during the day, while others may choose to work throughout semester breaks. Finding the work schedule that best suits your study style and work requirements is paramount if you wish to keep doing both.
Avoid procrastination like the plague
Procrastination is the killer of good GPA’s and promising futures. Many have fallen victim to those extra 10 minutes of sleep, those few extra games, and the infamous “I’ll do it tomorrow” mindset. If you are someone who is easily spirited away by your surroundings, there are a few tricks you can implement to keep yourself on top.
Setting up a calendar and planning when to commence work on assessments can be a great way to keep yourself on track and plan ahead. Of course, keeping your phone and other devices out of sight is also important if you wished to keep focused. And lastly, breaking apart tasks and completing them in different segments can help you tackle major challenges.
Ask for help
University doesn’t need to be a solo experience. Seeking assistance from your peers, professors and other professionals within a university can help you work out your optimal study regime or alter your workload to better suit other commitments. This isn’t always possible though, so being able to consult others on a particular predicament may prove invaluable if you need that extra hand in handling your work, studies and home life.
Biting off too much
Knowing how much you can take on at one time and how much time your should commit to each study unit is an important skill that yields more benefits the earlier it is mastered. Students studying full-time who take on more than four units per semester while working can find themselves easily overwhelmed by their workload, which often results in lacklustre results or worse.
When planning what to study, be sure to understand what each course will require of you. Some courses and fields can be a lot easier to manage than others, such as a simple ethics course can be much easier than taking on a course in film or journalism which requires students to work around not only their schedules, but the schedules of others.
Students who have found that their current workload is a bit too much are usually able to alter their study schedules — given that they have not left it too late in the semester — and can take up their dropped courses in summer semesters.
Take time to rest
Constantly working without taking time out to recuperate can have negative effects on both your studies and your health. Though tenacity is a good thing to have, overloading yourself can cause fatigue and strain your relations.
Making sure to have some time to yourself at least one day a week to rest, exercise and take a break from your studies and work will give you time to recharge, maintain social relations and keep your mental health in check.
Perfection isn’t always possible
Expecting perfection in every facet of your university, work and personal life is a recipe for disaster — especially in terms of unit results. There will be many variables to throw you off and many students can attest to the frustration of their studies not always meshing with other commitments.
Keeping a positive mindset can keep you focused on how to improve instead of obsessing over mistakes and wasting time over small details. Seeking direction and advice from professors on how to improve and understand unit material better can assist in easing the burden of study to better focus on work and personal situations.
Of course, not all situations can be avoided or planned around, so having ways to catch up on your studies or planning your working week to best suit your work life is often the best way to overcome unavoidable clashes.