The Balancing Act – School vs. Work

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


By Recent Grad Toni Vollano

As with many adults going to college, students at Gateway Community College (GCC) struggle to balance school, work, and their personal lives. The result is daily stress when trying to find a healthy balance of the three. However, finding the perfect equilibrium is not impossible.

As a GCC alumna and current Quinnipiac student, I understand how “real” the struggle is. Going to school full-time while juggling part-time or even a full-time job can be overwhelming. It’s hard not to feel the pressure of school life, family life, and work life, but it is also important to understand you are not alone. When I first started my education, I was taking the recommended six classes on top of working part-time. At first I was able to handle it, but when my jobs and personal responsibilities increased, I had to take a step back and look at the big picture. I realized that I had a lot of things going for me and that it was okay to take things slowly; I wasn’t in a race with the people around me. Learning how not to compare myself to others was the first step towards balancing my life and easing the pressure.

The second step in mastering the balancing act is keeping a detailed schedule. Most people use planners to keep track of everything they have coming up, but for people with busy lives, planners are impractical. You have to look at them before they remind you of your upcoming tasks. Taking advantage of calendars with a notification system, like Google Calendar, is a life saver. With Google Calendar I am able to set up notifications that appear on my phone for days, hours, and even minutes before the task. I find it useful to color code everything to better organize my tasks. For example, work obligations are blue, math class is red, etc. Taking advantage of a system that sends you notifications means there will be no surprises during the semester.

Students with busy lives should take advantage of technology, especially for group projects. When you are always on the move, working at one set station or meeting up with a group can be extremely difficult.

Google Docs allows students to communicate with each other and work on the same projects without meeting in-person. For students who have a heavy workload, this can be a the difference between getting an A+ or a C-. Students can also take advantage of programs such as Skype and Face Time to video chat with their peers from home. It helps ease the pressure of commuting and is a big help when you cannot find a babysitter.

The last and most important piece to mastering the balancing act is taking time out for yourself.. When going from school to work, we tend to forget to do something personal for ourselves. For me, relaxing is getting together with friends and playing Dungeons and Dragons. Even if it is small, nerdy, or extravagant we should always take the time to do something for ourselves. Our lives are about more than our education and work, and it is important to unwind so we don’t burn out. I think the reason things become so stressful for students is that we all try to compare ourselves to the person sitting next to us. Remember, it’s okay to take things slower than everyone else, take advantage of technology, and take some time for yourself even when it seems as if you don’t have any.