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College Students Guide to Surviving

Updated on April 3, 2016
Stacie L profile image

Stacie L has been an educator for many years and likes to share her experiences and advice.

Working through college

Utah waitress- Wiki Commons credit
Utah waitress- Wiki Commons credit | Source

Life of a Student

A college education is expected for most high school seniors but the cost of college is a major headache. Working while attending college has changed very little from years ago. It take focus and discipline to stay on course. You can succeed in college as a working student, but there are many things to take into consideration.

  • What kind of person are you?
  • Do you like to finish projects fast and get them over with?
  • Are you organized?
  • Do you wait til the last minute and rush to finish a term paper?
  • Do you cram all night for a test the next morning?
  • Are you a morning person or do you do best later in the day?

It can be done and, while not easy, the rewards are can be infinite. Here are a few items to consider if you want to work while attending college.

More Stress today

The college student's life today is probably more stressful than, say, twenty years ago.The tuition is much higher, the requirements for a diploma,degree or license is more stringent and there's not a lot of time to study, if you are a trying to make a living.

When I attended the university, I had two work study jobs on campus and a weekend job. That's right; I worked seven days a week ! It wasn't easy and I didn't think I would make it to graduation day, but I did, and so can you. I studied while working at the library or the weekend toy store during slow periods.

Decisions about type of higher education

A higher education institution is very expensive so unless you come from a wealthy home, expect to be working for your tuition and living expenses.

If you are a full time student and living on campus, you had better have some financial assistance. You can pay around $25,000 a year for a private college tuition and expenses and around $10,000 for non-private,state institutions. This would include room and board costs.

You should get to the campus early to locate the best work study jobs. Not all colleges will assist in this. Also try to find an easy hourly job in the town,where the college is located. If you wait till college starts,the good on campus jobs will be taken. A lot of us have waited tables in the local coffee shop,worked at fast food restaurants and family sit down restaurants.

In many respects, it's easier to find work and manage time while attending college, than in the past. Information is at your fingertips today.You don't have to drive 10 to 20 miles to a university library or copy pages from a book to study at home. This is probably why the requirements are tougher today to graduate.

If you live on campus and come home weekends, then working a weekend job is a essential. There are many employers looking for weekend workers. It's tough not going out with your friends if you work weekends, but you must remember,that it will not be forever; It will only feel that way.

I think community college is a good option for people on a budget today.You can save money on housing, save money on gas and driving,even car pooling would be good for all concerned. If you and a friend share a car and the expenses,and all that go along with that,attending college would be more affordable.

The average college students loan debt is $28,950!

3 Simple jobs to pay for school

  • Babysitting is a tried and true way to make some money. I babysat for the first two years of my community college experience. These jobs didn't earn a lot, but they did pay for gas, lunch and some small necessities. I also was able to study while the kids were asleep so it worked out for me.
  • Another great way to make some money is tutoring. If you are good in math, science, computer programs or a foreign language, you will have not have a problem getting work. The Internet has many online opportunities for tutoring as well as in-person.
  • Working for the college on a work/study basis is still a good way to pay for classes. I worked in the library, admissions office and cafeteria in a few of the universities I attended.

In fact, I worked in the admissions office during the day, in between classes, answering phones and filing.

At night, I worked at the same campus library. It was a little rough for a while, but I managed. These jobs were part of my college work study agreement so be sure you check these options out.

7 Creative Ways to Earn Money

There are ways to make money besides the traditional jobs. You could make crafts in your spare time and sell them to other students.Some students can turn their little craft and hobby talents into a thriving business.

  • Jewelry making such as stringing beads and making inexpensive earrings is always a money maker. Sell them directly to other students or on a commission basis in the local stores.Online venues such as Etsy,Ebay,Artfire,Yessy are good options to generate revenue.
  • Scrap booking is also popular and inexpensive to make. Some students make leather goods such as belts,wallets and purses to sell to other students.
  • If you are an experienced seamstress, you can make tailored shirts dresses or perhaps,embroider other students clothing and handbags.
  • A talented artist could draw or paint portraits in the student lounge, if permitted.Sell them directly or online. Digital art is now accepted as a legitimate art form so many students sell their images on sites such as Zazzle, Cafepress, DeviantArt, FineArtAmerica, Etsy, Artfire and RedBubble.
  • A photography student could get in some practice and charge a small fee to take photos for students to send back home. With a little creativity, you can make some extra money to pay for books, gas, food and other expenses while attending college. Your imagination is all that's needed.
  • Creating Print on Demand (POD) products using your art and photos on sites such as Zazzle, CafePress, FineArtAmerica, Red Bubble, Deviant Art will generate some much needed funds. The most popular item is tee shirt prints with funny sayings.
  • Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention writing on revenue sharing site like Hubpages. Many writers are also college students that earn some extra cash and some may get a jump on their journalism careers. You may also sell your articles on article sites.Start a blog about campus life or where to find bargains that students can use will be a hit.

Study smarter

The key to better grades is to study smarter. Time is more precious than ever when you are working and going to school. It doesn't matter if you attend in person or online; the way you study is key to your survival. Get the best grades with the least amount of effort was written by Dr. Marc Dussault, a speed study expert. Check the link at the bottom for more information. I posted a video from an expert explaining how to study more efficiently

I research many online sites and there are some very good ones that are interactive. The old stand by, Cliffs Notes has been around for many years. Parents used and trusted them so now they are better than ever with an interactive site that can help you study in almost nay subject.

Another newer site is SparkNotes. They are a cross between a social network site and an actual study sites that has a modern day interpretation of the old classics such as No Fear Shakespeare and No Fear Literature. Shmoops is another site I recently discovered while tutoring a student.

Demand of Time

As with any demand on your time, you must first be very organized and motivated. Carrying a huge debt for college is a great motivator .Even if you received a scholarship or grant money, you still need to spend money and time wisely.

Some things to consider is whether you are still living at home, while attending college, coming home on the weekends, or if you are working full time and attending college after work.

Each scenario has it's pros and cons, so you'll quickly discover which one works for you.

No Guts, No Glory

The hardest option is to attend college while working a full time job. I and many others have and still's exhausting and you may not have a social life while attending, so think very carefully before deciding on this venture.

I have discussed general considerations in this article but there are other considerations. If you are a medical student, for instance,your bills will be huge and working while studying will be a challenge,if at all possible.

You alone will have to determine whether to go part time,full time, or a semester on and off. Money plays an important role in these decisions .Scholarship winners usually, have to carry a full time course load to retain their scholarship each year..That could be 15 - 18 credits for a semester. Could you carry that load and work? It really depends on the individual.

A students success depends a lot on their character,determination, and self discipline.

Throw in a job and maybe it will break you or make you stronger. I know people who have demanding careers and attend college every night after work. Their families discussed the situation ahead of time and they knew it wouldn't be easy,but the rewards will be realized very shortly. The new career will be paying a lot more and all will benefit,as a result.

In Conclusion

Going to college is a huge challenge today.The costs are rising, the demands on your time is stressful, and a job is not always guaranteed when you graduate. Figure out which type of school you can afford. Wherever you go,you'll most likely have to work off some or all of your tuition. I hope you found some helpful tips in this article.

So you can succeed in college while working if you are determined, self disciplined, organized and have the support of family and friends.

Oh Happy Day!

oh happy day!
oh happy day!

Working While Attending College

Did you work while attending college fulltime?

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© 2008 Stacie L


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