Most commuters at the University of Houston, and possibly any university, tend to live double-lives; one here on campus and one at home. Also, for most commuters, that other life tends to include a job that is fifteen minutes to an hour away from campus. Balancing two lives, on campus and off, already comes with some difficulty, and an off-campus job on top of that adds even more. In fact, the difficulty of this balancing act seems so daunting that most commuters shy away from the prospect. In spite of that, I’m here to not only tell you that it’s possible, but also help you manage your own balancing act.
If you had told me two months ago that I’d be adding a job on top of taking fifteen credit hours, an internship with SGA, and a writing position for Cooglife I would have laughed in your face. Hard. Just making the commute back and forth from campus for classes and meetings already took up so much of my time; most of what I had left I spent staying on top of my assignments, and not without great difficulty.
I don’t remember exactly what it was that motivated me to apply for a job ($$$), but come September I was spending my weekends at the Marco’s Pizza ten minutes away from my house and forty away from UH. This leads me to my first piece of advice; work close to home. As commuters, we already spend enough time in some kind driving around and we do not need any more mind-numbing minutes in between locations trying to speed to our destination. A location close to home, preferably on the way home from campus, or at least not more than a few minutes out of the way, will significantly cut down on your travel time and your gas consumption. This is also convenient for days when you’re going straight to work after class. Another smart thing to do on these days is to have your work attire in your car so you won’t have to run home first.
If you’re not about that five-hour-shift-after-seven-hour-school-day life then a good alternative would be working on the weekends. Be smart about it, though. Don’t pick up back-to-back doubles if you know you have an essay due at 11:59 Sunday night. Weekends are usually a commuter’s time to do homework so taking advantage of the times in between classes during the week would help keep you on top of your work. Even if it means working while you’re eating. The ability to multitask is a useful skill for a busy commuter to have.
Besides the actual scheduling (working shifts that don’t interfere with your classes goes without being said), you need something to do your scheduling on. Most college students rely heavily on planners to keep their busy lives organized, working college students even more so. Personally, I use a large planner with plenty of space so I can see all of my obligations in one place but having more than one planner is an option for those who prefer to keep their on-campus and off-campus lives separated.
Finally, it’s very important to stick to a routine. Try to keep your work hours as consistent as possible every week so not much shifting around has to be done to accommodate your work schedule. After a while, you’ll settle into a routine that works for you and makes for one less thing to stress about. Besides the general stress of school and working, that is.