Getting that Work-Life-Study Balance Right

For many students, working part-time whilst studying at University is a necessity, as well as a means of enhancing their future employability, but it is crucial to get the balance right.  It can be daunting trying to juggle a job with study, and for this reason, the University recommends that students work no more than 15 hours per week during term-time.

 

Essential

 

1. Be clear with your employer

It is always good to be clear with your employer about how much work you are feasibly able to undertake in addition to your studies. This is definitely a conversation to have when discussing the terms of your employment contract. 



If you manage the expectations of your employer, you may be more likely to be given shifts that are conducive to your studies - and less likely to disappoint them if you have to turn down extra hours.

 

2. Try not to miss your degree programme contact time

We understand that you have applied for a part time job because you need cash, but missing lectures and seminars is likely to make you feel as though you are spending a lot of money on your studies for nothing.



Contact time is important; it is an opportunity for you to speak to your lecturers and add clarity to your understanding. What’s more, your absence may be noticed and, in some cases, your attendance can contribute to your module marks. Not only that, it’s a social opportunity!



Remember, paid work is rarely considered as an extenuating circumstance; if you do not use your contact time effectively owing to paid work, it is unlikely that this will be accepted by your School as a reasonable request for an extension or an examining board remedy. 



If you are working because you are concerned about facing financial hardship, and this is having a detrimental impact on your studies, perhaps you should consider other channels of financial support. You can find out more about the options available on our Money Advice webpages.


Advisable

 

3. Don’t over-commit to shifts

How many hours you are able to undertake is likely to vary depending on the demands of your degree. 

 

Before committing to additional shifts or longer hours, we would advise you to consider a the benefits of the shift, versus the risk of missing that lab session, to ensure that any extra work will not impede on your university work or any upcoming assessments.

 

4. Forward plan

It’s good to avoid surprises by knowing exactly when your assessment deadlines and exam periods are going to take place.

 

Your employer may also benefit from being aware of these dates in advanced so that they can anticipate any time off that you may need. 

 

If you do not have a zero-hours contract, it may be difficult for you to get time off around exams without using annual leave, so it is better to have these conversations early to understand what your employers may be expecting of you. It is likely that you will have to manage these assessments at the same time as part-time work so you may want to start them early.

 

You should also consider what social events are coming up when you are forward planning! 

 

The social calendar is a significant part of the University experience. Sure, you may need to miss the occasional JUICE or two if you are working part time, but it is important that you make time for social plans.

 

Juggling a part time job with your studies does not mean that you cannot spend time with your friends and family. Remember to treat yourself from time to time.

 

5. Use your time productively

 

If you forward plan effectively, you may be able to dedicate certain times to your studies.

 

Be productive in this time; identify learning objectives or coursework targets that you want to meet in each session, and choose activities that will help you achieve this.

 

For example, is there a journal article that you need to read before tomorrow’s seminar? Is there a coursework deadline coming up in a few weeks? Did you understand the equation your lecturer was talking about yesterday? Cater your study time to address these needs.

 

6. Take some time to look after yourself

 

If you are studying full-time, working part-time and partying every weekend, it is not unusual for you to feel exhausted. 

 

Make sure you schedule some time out during to week to reboot. Maybe even treat yourself to something – perhaps a take away?


Optional

 

7. Can you work seasonally?

 

The majority of Higher Education courses run from September to June. Have you considered working full time in the summer to sustain your expenses for the next academic year?

 

8. See your pals

 

If you’re working and studying at the same time, you must be a busy body. Your friends might miss you – and taking some time out to see them is likely to be a good use of your down time. 

 

Students who are part of a community often more satisfied with their University experience than those that aren’t. If your scheduling in some free time, why not drop your friend a message and see if they’re free for a chat.

 

Have any other ideas? Let us know:

 

Student Advice

advice@cardiff.ac.uk
029 2087 1410

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