I swanned into university expecting it to be a breeze; endless nights out, trips with friends, colossal food shops and all round easy living. After all, isn’t university supposed to be the best days of your life? While I can attest to the fact that university is turning out to be all it’s cracked out to be (and more), it is no walk in the park. My notions of swanky meals out and full financial stability and freedom were quickly shattered and I was brought swiftly back to reality while slurping luke warm pot noodles for tea.
Getting a part time job in college was always high on my list of priorities, and my first month of first year floating in limbo with no disposable income was definitely my worst experience of college yet. Although at times it can be a challenge (and an utter pain in the backside), balancing work and college has been one of my best feats yet. If you’re still unsure of whether it’s worth the time and energy burden, or just looking for reasons to keep soldiering on through work, I’ve compiled my top reasons for maintaining the uber tricky work college balancing act.
This is perhaps the most obvious and most quickly attainable result of working while in college. Working has given me the unique opportunity to build up a solid savings account and buy the things I previously could never have managed to. It has given me a much better quality of life; free from burden of borrowing money off friends and family, and free from the guilt of overspending on a tight budget.
Financial independence is fantastic but with this novelty comes money management. Balancing work and college means factoring in money needed for college supplies, fees, health bills, groceries, general necessities, savings, travel and the list goes on (in fact, it never really ends). I am eternally glad to have thrown myself in at the deep end here. Although daunting at first, money management skills are vitally important for adulting success. They’re not easy to master either, but the sooner we begin working, the sooner we get to begin mastering this lifelong skill.
Different jobs carry with them different opportunities, both financial and non-financial. There might be internships, promotions and travel opportunities for you, depending on where you choose to work. For me, the financial independence I gained from working left me in the position to live away from home throughout the summer after my first year of college. Being offered a full time position, I was able to fully support myself. Moving out for reasons other than college opened up a massive new world to me, leaving me more equipped for life and independent living than I ever thought I could be.
Friends for life
I’ve made some of my best friends in work, and a result of living away from home for work. The people I lived with for summer while working have become some of my best friends. I feel incredibly at home where I live now, and I have such a fantastic support group of people looking out for me, people I can count on. The city feels half the size it was when I first moved here, and work has given me the opportunity to meet these wonderful people.
Time and stress management
I can’t lie about this one, serious lack of time and massive surplus of stress is a common side effect of juggling work and college, and of course everything else that life violently tosses your way. I’ve fallen victim to many a sleepless night, minor caffeine dependence and some really stressful exam periods. But I got through them, and I’m glad I never gave up, although it was tempting at times. I’ve learned the value of being perpetually organised, diving head first into college work as soon as it rears its ugly head and staying (relatively) calm when exams and work are intertwined.
Appreciating the little things
From this major time deficit comes immense relief when you finally get on top of that college work and experience a day off; a day of nothingness, a day of YOU. I cannot even describe how much I value my days off now, how precious those lie ins have become. In addition to appreciating time or lack thereof, I appreciate everything I buy because it’s my own disposable income and I worked for it.