Arts & CultureNews

A balancing act: school, work, life

Ivar Vong

University economics major Philip Taylor is a busy guy. 

Working more than 25 hours a week at two jobs and going to school full time means he has to carefully plan his schedule if he wants to have any time for himself.

“Often what I’ll try to do is pull a really long night or a really long day so that I can have a free day,” he said. 

Most weekdays he leaves his house by 8 a.m. and isn’t free to start working on his homework until 9 p.m. Despite his demanding work life, the junior maintains a 3.89 GPA. 

Although many students are struggling to find employment in a difficult economy,
Taylor is a part of the small population of students who having found employment and are dealing with a new set of obstacles. His burden isn’t finding employment; it’s the extra strain that working a lot of hours places on his academic and social life.

“I miss out on the typical college experience,” Taylor said. ” But I don’t think so much about it because I have other needs that are more important.”

Chris Esparza, a senior staff psychologist at the University Counseling & Testing Center, said students in Taylor’s position don’t get the support they need. 

“They miss validation, and other students have a hard time reacting to the difficulties they face in that situation,” he said.

Esparza said one of the major challenges that working students face was time management. 

Taylor said the strain of his schedule was part of his motivation. 

“When I have a lot of things to do, I’m more motivated,” he explained. “As long as I manage my time well, I think it’s really doable.”  

Students who successfully manage to balance their work and academic demands still face a strain on their social lives. Esparza said working students often “have to turn down social
opportunities,” and that it can inadvertently cause them to seem uninterested in socializing.

Taylor admits he has little time for socializing during the week, but he said his friends understand the situation.  He said that despite his schedule, socialization is still possible if it is planned on the weekends.

“It makes it so things can’t be so spontaneous; they have to be a lot more methodical,” he said.  

Students with full schedules often find their opportunities for random social time limited. 
Taylor said he often has to put other things ahead of socialization because he needs the money and wants the experience on his resume.  

Esparza added that many working students get great grades, but they often must miss out on opportunities that are available to other students, such as career fairs and study groups.

Many students in this situation have an internal conflict because, although they are working to keep themselves in school, they often can’t participate in many of the activities that are part of the reason that they went to school in the first place.   

Anne Levardier, a transfer student who works at Knight Library and for Allen Hall Public Relations, said she does miss out on some opportunities to spend time with her friends, but that working provides its own opportunities to connect.  

Taylor agreed there were ups and downs to a busy work life. 

“It is most definitely a mixed blessing,” he said. “I’m satisfied with my jobs, but they take time away from my other interests.”

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