Students struggle balancing work and school

Graphic of a waiter balancing books and tableware. Photo courtesy The New York Times

Students from all walks of life are faced with the typical adversaries that come with academia, such as lack of sleep, time and energy. However, many students struggle with the harsh reality of balancing a healthy academic life while working 30 or more hours a week.

Being a college student is often associated with living a “broke” lifestyle in order to stay afloat in a time when academics should be a priority.  But not all students have the luxury of being able to attend a university without also having a job.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of full-time undergraduate students who were employed in 2018 was at 43 percent.

A full-time undergraduate student must have a minimum of a 12-credit course load, which translates to 12 hours of classroom time. Paired with studying, homework, projects, quizzes and more, many students find themselves struggling to manage their time in order to fulfill academic proficiency and financial security.

Employed students are often put in situations where they must sacrifice energy and time set aside for academics to ensure financial security.

Nicholas Karpiw, a full-time student attending Florida State University, says  being employed can have an impact on your academic success.

“Freshman year of college whooped my ass. I failed three classes while working 40 hours a week. After I failed those classes I realized I needed to focus and do better in school … luckily, I am at a place now where I can’t be scared to call out when I need to. I did not want to inconvenience others [with scheduling] but if it is not benefiting me or my academics right now I have to make sure I have the time to get done what needs to get done,” said Karpiw. “Last year when I moved to Tallahassee from August to November, I did not have a job and I felt very balanced overall because I was not really worried about work-stress. It made it a lot easier for me to focus on school.”

Scales balancing work and school. Photo courtesy The Sheaf

Paired with the everyday task of being a student and employee, COVID-19 has taken the world by storm and has flipped the workforce on its head.

 With thousands of jobs undergoing drastic changes in the past seven months, many employees are forced into a rapid state of adjustment as establishments navigate running a business during a pandemic.

Siani Henderson, a sophomore enrolled at Florida A&M University, says the stressors of COVID-19 have played a role in her workspace and academics.

“The switch over to online makes me feel like I am not even in school anymore. I do school work when I can and I work all the time so I can try and pay for school so I kind of forget about my school work at times. If I could put all my focus into school I think I would be getting the most out of it, but I am not right now. I am just trying to pass,”Henderson said.