How to Study Effectively When You Work Full Time


Having a full-time job can be exhausting all by itself. Add classes and all the homework and studying that come with them, and you have a recipe for an overwhelming day. Juggling these tasks can seem incredibly daunting. So, how in the world do you balance both a full-time job and study sessions?

As crazy as it sounds, it is possible to have a full-time job, be a full-time student, and have a social life. So how do you study effectively while working a full-time job? Here is a list of some techniques you can use to study while working a full-time job:

  • Use a Time-Management System to manage your time
  • Quick Study Sessions During Work Breaks
  • Wake up an hour earlier each day and study
  • Set aside time in the evening to study
  • Study on days off
  • Record and listen to lectures during commutes to work

It is essential to find balance in these things, so you don’t end up burnt out. There are many different ways to do this. Once you find ways that work for you, you will realize that although your day may be hectic, you can absolutely be a full-time employee and successful student.

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Why is it Essential to Have a Job While a Student?

According to studies conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, students who have jobs have higher GPAs than those who do not work. Having a job also helps reduce your student loan debt because you are more able to afford college. Having a job will also teach you career skills that are vital experience for your future. Networking is also super beneficial because connections can lead to careers. You may also have benefits, which not all students have the luxury of having. Working your way through college can be overwhelming at times, but it can also provide you with valuable experiences that you will thank yourself for down the road.

Of course, there can also be cons to having a job while in college. Having a job and being a student means less free time and ultimately added stress. You have to weigh these possible challenges in order to determine if having a job while also a student is worth it for you.

So, How Do I Go About Studying When I Work Full-Time?

Studying can seem like a full-time job, so having an actual full-time job on top of that can seem impossible. Here are some ways to be able to study and work full-time simultaneously:

During your breaks at work, get a quick study sesh in. Bring some flashcards with you to work, so you can practice even when you have just a couple of seconds to spare. Also, if you have a lapse during work where there are no customers, or you don’t have any tasks to do, ask your superior if it’s alright for you to read your textbook or look over your notes.

As difficult as it may be, try to wake up earlier and study in the morning before you go to work. Setting your alarm for an hour earlier will allow you some quiet, alone time while also allowing you to get some studying in. You don’t have to do this every day, but a couple or a few times a week could be really beneficial in the end.

Take advantage of days off and vacation days. Don’t take an off day from work as a free day to stay in bed and sleep all day. Use that free day to get homework done and lots of studying in. Take advantage of these opportunities to help yourself get ahead and work at a more beneficial pace.

Do you have a commute in order to get to work? Take advantage of it! Instead of blasting Harry Styles’ new album on the way to your workplace, download audio versions of your textbooks and other reading material and listen to them on your way. You could also record your professor’s lectures and listen to those as well. Listening to music, talk radio, or sitting in silence can be relaxing and enjoyable, but unfortunately, they won’t help you obtain your degree. Don’t waste that pesky commute; use it to your advantage. You will be making the most of your time while also making drive time less of a burden.

Become the king or queen of multi-tasking. Cooking dinner? Are you working out? Are you cleaning the bathroom? Find ways to study while also doing those things. It may seem odd, but you will be shocked when you realize how many tasks you do throughout the day are perfect for multi-tasking. You can look over your notes and cook taco meat at the same time. I Promise.

Learn to balance your attention and energy. Don’t overwork yourself. Doing both work and school full-time requires a lot of energy. Take care of your responsibilities and demands, but don’t go above and beyond. Burnout will cause you to be unable to do either. Work and school take so much physical and mental energy. Your body and mind running on fumes could become disastrous. Listen to your body and stop when you know you need to stop.

Where are the Best Places to Work as a Student?

One of the best places to work as a student is on campus. Before or after your shift, you are already on campus to attend classes and study by yourself or with classmates. Also, if you need to study while on shift, your bosses and co-workers will understand because they are in the same boat as you. Some universities also offer work-study programs that give you class credit for working. You could work in the bookstore, be a tutor, a resident assistant, or work in a campus market, in addition to other things depending on what your campus has and offers.

If you desire to work off-campus, you should choose to work in the area in which you are obtaining a degree. For example, if you want to be a graphic designer, you could work at an art supply store. If you’re going to be a sports journalist, work at a sports merchandise store. If you want to work in hospitality, get a job at a hotel. Having a job that includes something you love and are passionate about will make it easier to go to work every day. Enjoying your situation and what you do will make working more enjoyable and less of a chore.

An internship is also a perfect way for you to get work experience in your career path, yet also make some money. Unpaid internships are not allowed in many states anymore and are becoming less and less frequent. Try to find a paid internship within your major. Again, many universities give class credit for this as well.

You could also look into being a babysitter or dog walker. Sounds cliché, but these are perfect ways to make some cash and also be able to study at the same time. I mean, who doesn’t love dogs and kids?

The Realities of Working in College

According to Forbes, around 15 million college students work at a job while pursuing their degrees. Most of these students are doing this out of financial necessity. These jobs do offer more than just a paycheck, though.

Having a job allows students to apply classroom concepts to the real world. This is why I suggested getting a job that has to do with your major in some way. Your primary reason for getting a job may be monetary, but you will also learn people skills, time management, organization, and scheduling.

One mantra that I live by is, “If you have a job that you love, you will never work a day in your life.” If your job does not fulfill you in this way, then it is not a job worth doing. The best jobs fill more than just the need or desire for a paycheck. Yes, we want to be able to pay our rent and phone bill, but we also need to gain something within from experience as well. You may learn what you want out of a career and what you definitely do not want out of your career.

Learning how to balance your work, school, and social life is a skill you will be able to use to your advantage for the rest of your life. It teaches you that life is hard and overwhelming sometimes. Managing stress and time, as well as communication, is vital in this day in age. We are all always on-the-go and invested in what we are doing. In order to do this, we must learn balance.

The Cons of Working While in School

Working while in school allows you to earn and income and gain professional experience, but there are cons to consider as well.

The first con obviously being losing time that could be devoted to your studies. I have mentioned many ways that you can try to combat this, but there will always be some time lost to work that you could have used to study. This could also lead you to become burnt out and overworked. College is stressful enough, but having a job on top of that may stretch you too thin.

Your social life could also suffer if you have a job while in college. Some people love having free time to devote to friends in college. We all know frat parties and social gatherings are some people’s favorite things to do while in college. If you are one of these people, a job could take away these opportunities from you.

You never want to give up your degree for any reason, especially for your job. A much better career path awaits you within your major. Students may see no point in going to school if they are getting paid for doing a job that doesn’t require a degree. Of course, there are tons of people who have succeeded in careers without a degree, but in this day in age, it is so much more beneficial to have one.

Even though having an income can give you peace of mind while in school, it could also be too much for a full-time student to handle. It is up to you to know yourself and what you can manage.

Working While in College can be Risky

Ultimately, you need to determine if your reason for obtaining a degree is more so about money or doing something that you love.

The optimal outcome, of course, is for student to both work and complete a degree,” said Daniel Douglas, a senior researcher at the Education and Employment Research Center at Rutgers University. “Then they get the premium from work during college, and they also get the premium associated with completing a degree.” (Source)

Doing both can be overwhelming but rewarding if you are able to find balance and weigh the pros and cons based on how you function. There is genuinely no downside to making money while in college — student debt and not having enough money for a trip to Trader Joe’s sucks. You just can’t let your grades suffer in order to make money.

You can try selling old clothes on Mercari or use websites like Crowdtap to earn gift cards for doing surveys if you need some extra spending money. There are ways to study when you work full time, but you have to be up for the challenge.

In Conclusion

Working full-time is beneficial for obvious reasons. Being a student is beneficial for obvious reasons. But working full-time AND being a student at the same time can be super stressful.

It is absolutely possible for you to study when you work full-time, but you have to do so strategically. Use any free time, even a bathroom break. Yes, a bathroom break to study. Use flashcards when you have no customers to help, listen to audiobook versions of your textbooks while commuting to work or school, review notes while on your lunch break. Anything helps because small amounts of studying are better than no studying at all. Your grades will thank you in the future.

College costs a lot of money. Student loan debt sucks. Having a job helps take the pressure off of your shoulders when it comes to these hurdles. Knowing that you will be able to afford groceries for the week and the scantrons you need for your next exam may help ease some of your academic stress.

Getting a job on campus can also help ease some of your stress. You won’t have a commute, everyone will understand your situation, and the university library and study areas are all close by. You can also do a job like tutoring to keep your brain going even while on the job.

It may also be beneficial to get a job doing something that pertains to your major and career path. Some students even get paid internships, because they are a way to work while also earning college credit.

25% of college students work full-time in addition to their studies. If you work full-time and are a full-time student, you aren’t the only one. Most college students do work, which can be a good and a bad thing. There are pros and cons to both sides of the spectrum. You have to know how you work as a person and how much stress you can handle and balance. As long as you are determined to obtain your degree and complete your studies, you are on the right path.

If you work full-time and find it challenging to find time to study, try some of the methods I mentioned in this article. Not all of them will work for you, but if one or some do, your education will be much better off. As long as you see your goals and strive to reach them every day, you will be successful. You should never have to choose between food on your table and your education. Finding your balance between both is critical. Take care of your responsibilities and demands, but keep your mental and physical health in mind. Balance your work, job, social life, and family life- but never lose sight of your degree.

“I never dreamt of success. I worked for it.” – Estee Lauder

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How to Study Effectively While Working Full-Time