Updated on September 24, 2019
Working Smart and Working Hard:
The Life of a College Student with a Job
In the movies, college is all football games and huge parties with lots of red Solo cups full of free beer. But in real life, college can be stressful, crammed with grades, professors, roommates, and the weight of the future to worry about. On top of all of that, many of us also have to deal with a job outside of school. It‘s not always financially possible to focus only on studying and degrees. Juggling the responsibilities of a student and an employee can be super overwhelming, but here’s how it can be done.
For the last four years, I’ve been a nanny for a wonderful family with two boys. I’m lucky with my job, and I get to work for amazing people with really great kids every day. That isn’t to say that it’s always smooth sailing. A lot of my vocabulary test flashcards end up with peanut butter stains on them, and I spend afternoons at a sweaty dojo learning linguistics while the kids do karate.
One night, right before a midterm, I was babysitting the boys, helping them with their homework. One of the boys had lost a critical page of math homework due the next day. Chaos ensued, and I was facing the business end of a temper tantrum when I was already totally stressed about my test. My babysitting charge then decided to line up all the Furbies in the house across the staircase. They all started talking at once, and they won’t turn off until you rock them to sleep. So, I’m standing on the stairs, trying to convince a seven-year-old to come downstairs and finish his homework, while simultaneously trying to get a creepy robot toy to go to sleep. All the while, I’m running through what’s on the linguistics test tomorrow about how to write my name in the phonetic alphabet.
I got through that night and many others like it. It wasn’t all that easy, but it was possible. With the support of my NDNU professors, who I always found very understanding of my overly busy schedule, I have managed to make it through to my final semester. It’s all about finding a balance and finding a community that’s supportive of juggling priorities.
Being a student with a job hasn’t always been easy, but it has taught me some very valuable skills that are going to come in handy for the rest of my life. Time management is essential. Planners are God’s gift to anyone with more than one thing going on in a day. When a project is assigned, I try to start it that same day. On the work side, I schedule my classes so I have time to get to my job and not arrive late. Also, I set aside one day each week when I do neither work nor school and just bake chocolate cupcakes—my roommates and family wouldn‘t let me make any other flavor.
Olivia E. Smith is a senior at Notre Dame de Namur University majoring in English. She edited the university’s literary/arts magazine The Bohemian. Her blog Roses and Rambles deals with culture and women’s issues.
For information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University, please visit the Admissions page.