Managing work and school is key to college success

Thursday, July 30, 2009 | 12:28 p.m. CDT; updated 12:38 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 30, 2009

For many students, work is unavoidable. But juggling a job and school can be overwhelming.

Amanda Nell, director of Student Employment Services, said many students must work in order to pay for food, books and rent, and “this can make having a job very stressful.”

According to Nell, some people struggle while others don't.

“More and more students come to college with work experience, so they know what to do.”

The decision to work or not is up to the individual, said Craig Benson, assistant director of Student Employment Services. “This is a transition period. You have to work out what's best for you.”

Both Nell and Benson agree the first priority should always be classwork.

Emily Burchell is a St. Louis native and senior in journalism. During her freshman year, she worked at Ticketmaster.

She also joined a sorority, and social responsibilities ended up taking a lot of her free time. In the sorority, freshmen were required to work eight to 12 hours a month to build complicated floats for Homecoming.  

“Sometimes working was difficult because it got very busy. I worked 12 to 17 hours a week,” Burchell said.

Burchell recommended finding a job on campus.

"They are hard to get, but more flexible,” she said. “I'd work for an hour, go to class and then go back to work for a few hours.”

Off campus, Burchell said, the best places to look are restaurants and fast-food chains. There are retail positions, but not as many.

Her advice: "Start off with 10 and see how that goes.”

According to Nell, research agrees with Burchell's recommendation.

“More than 20 hours is too much. It starts to affect grades, your stress levels and then your health.” 

The consensus is this: Don't overdo it.

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