Working and Attending School: Time Management

By: Samantha Bogert

Time management - photo by Ryan Hyde
The ever ticking clock, a reminder, time wasted or that looming deadline. “Ryan Hyde”

Do you find yourself struggling to finish homework or unable to study for a big test because you have to rush off to work? Now think of commuters who waste even more time getting to where they need to be, whether it’s work or school or home. With all that a student has to do in the course of one day, how can anybody find the time to focus on schoolwork?
Well, lots of students battle with this problem every day. According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 78 percent of undergraduate students work about 30-hour-per-week jobs while attending school full-time. Which, when you think about it, doesn’t leave much time to study if you’re also going to classes, driving to where you need to be, and catching up on those Z’s.
“Nobody has an easy time in college. College is hard; that’s why everyone doesn’t have a degree. The students who have an easier time are the students who plan their time rather than just winging it,” says Elizabeth Swartz, Interim Career and Peer Mentor Programs Coordinator for the Expanding Horizons program right here on the Fitchburg State campus.
Time management is a very important life skill, especially for students, and it’s something that a lot of students who come into college have trouble learning. Swartz advises all students, commuters and residents alike, to “use a time-management system that resonates with them.” For example, Swartz recommends paper planners for some students, “to write things down, check them off, and add stickers or drawings to help them remember important dates.” For other students, she recommends electronic calendars because “they like the reminders, the push notifications, and alerts.” Some students prefer to use a combination of written to-do lists and reminders on their phones or computers for important deadlines, Swartz said.
Working, however, is quite necessary for students nowadays. For the majority of students this then means they must schedule their work hours around classes, commuting, and studying and still manage to make a decent paycheck. The American Council for Education found that the main reason students work is to pay for tuition, fees, and living expenses instead of solely relying on loans. “If work must be a priority in order to pay for school, I usually suggest trying an online class,” Swartz says. “Online classes alleviate the need to travel to campus which provides more time for school work.” Taking an online class or two, then, might be a plausible option for commuters to help them manage their time better.
Even though you may be struggling to find the time to study while working, hanging out with friends, attending classes and managing to keep your grades up, Swartz says it can all be done with proper planning. “Take control of your life and your schedule by deliberately planning time to go to class, study, work, do laundry, eat, and have fun,” Swartz says. “Plan time to watch Netflix and HBO-Go, but don’t let your down time be more important than your other responsibilities.”