Tips for Balancing School and Work


“I’ve had lots of late night study sessions lately, and my boss has started to notice that I’m pretty exhausted at work. Any advice?” — Drea from Casper, WY


Thanks for your question, Drea. Know that you’re far from alone in your situation!

With many students having to work to pay their way through college and large numbers of professionals returning to school to advance their careers, there are a lot of people struggling to balance busy schedules.  Even people who aren’t going to school get tired and exhausted from the stresses of looking after kids, financial pressures, aging parents, home repair issues, etc.

If you’re feeling tired and your boss has noticed, the first thing you need to ask yourself is has your work, attitude or communication suffered as a result of your studies? If the answer is yes, it’s time to take action.

  • Let your boss know you’re in school. First and foremost, if your boss isn’t aware you’re currently in school, talk to him about the classes you’re taking. He may be impressed by your ambition and desire to move ahead in your career. If the bulk of your studies happen on certain days, he may allow you to work flexible hours to accommodate everything.
  • Set reasonable expectations. If you’re trying to be the star employee AND ace all of your tests and papers, you may be overextending yourself. Focusing on doing a good job at school and work, without striving for perfection, can help reduce stress and the number of hours you’re putting in.
  • Evaluate your time. Write down how many hours you want to devote to classes and schoolwork, as well as how many hours you need for relaxation and sleep. If the remaining hours available for work are less than you’re working now, you will need to either reduce your work hours or scale back your studies.
  • Calculate the ROI. Think about the return on investment (ROI) for how you spend your time. If you devote more time to work and cut back on your credit hours, it will take longer to get your degree; however, you may be more financially stable in the short term. However, if you devote more time to school now, you’ll earn a degree quicker, which could mean an increase in salary.

Regardless of what you decide, remember that a key to a successful life is balance.  When certain activities begin to dominate, leaving you feeling tired, frustrated and stressed – you know it’s time to re-evaluate how you are spending your time and energy.