Which comes first, school or work? Finding a happy medium is no easy task, but luckily there are ways to cope.
Rebecca Broadbent, Academic and Career Adviser and Jackie Hesleph, Director of Student Employment and Cooperative Education Services, both agree that for the 80 percent of Salt Lake Community College students working full or part time, time management is essential.
Broadbent often sees students “trying to be super heroes” and “do it all.” Having full time school and work loads, along with family, church and social life, isn’t “conducive with success.”
The formula SLCC follows is for every credit hour, two hours should be devoted to studying outside of class. Thus, a 12-hour school schedule demands 36 hours a week to school.
SLCC student and part time nanny, Ashley Miller, admits to having “grasped the concept of time management” and has never “had too much trouble juggling” the two.
Fellow SLCC student and English major, Jason VanTassel, works 25 hours a week as a preloader with UPS and devotes about 2 hours a day to schoolwork. At the start of the semester, he creates a study chart to adhere to. It’s his second semester back to school after 15 years. VanTassel admits he’s felt less stressed than he has in 10 years.
Broadbent suggests getting a calendar, collecting all your class syllabi, and writing down all assignment due dates. The planner should have all days of the week visible. Broadbent has noticed that these planners are especially effective for students. Basic calendar templates are free and easy to print from Microsoft Word.
“Make a schedule and stick to it. If you don’t plan out your time well then you will always have something come up that can keep you away from what you should be doing,” VanTassel advised.
While many students may opt for cutting class to work, Broadbent reminds students “in the long run, it will pay off.”
Broadbent, however, has at times advised students to drop classes. Life happens and working provides a steady source of income and experience.
Academic Advising Director, Sonia Parker, has noticed students seem more relaxed and look healthier after dropping a class they felt couldn’t fit into their schedules. That time slot then provided students with time for extracurricular activities and for catching up on other obligations and assignments.
Hesleph emphasized the importance of prioritizing your schedule, between your wants and needs. On occasion, Miller and VanTassel have had to take time off work to focus on school. VanTassel also gives himself a day out of the week to spend with family and friends. When Miller feels overwhelmed, she goes for a drive and listens to Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up acts.
For SLCC English instructor and current U of U graduate student, Cami Nelson, however, the more she has to do, the better she is at getting it done. When she first started teaching, Nelson found herself having to write 20 page essays and read over 200 pages of student work. To cope, Nelson relied on Red Bull and making sure she could write from 12-2 p.m. Creating a routine, sitting down and having a favorite beverage, is a crucial tip Nelson swears by. Treating study sessions like a school class, by studying at the same time and place every day, is very beneficial.
“If you have a goal to succeed academically, you will find the time to study,” Parker said.
“When we go on a trip or just to visit grandma, I take my books to read. My children have seen me turning pancakes with one hand while holding a book on the other,” said Parker, “I read between pancakes.” As a mother of four, working full time and going to school can be tough, but she finds a way to reach her goals. She wants to be a “full participant in my family life” like VanTassel, who helps his children with homework and coaches his son’s basketball and football team.
Nelson knows it’s easy for students to “become robots” with their many obligations and observed “SLCC students especially seem to have a lot on their plates.” While school and work are important, not to mention family and social obligations, as Hesleph said, once you set your priorities, “there’s going to be sacrifice somewhere along the line.”
Hesleph also suggested students look into finding jobs on campus, which eliminates time driving and more time studying.
Maintaining a healthy diet is also very beneficial. Eating a healthy breakfast and getting a nutritionally balanced diet are something Parker and Hesleph encourage.
However, with the riotous, overwhelming schedules students face, there’s always help.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Broadbent reminded.
At the Taylorsville Redwood Campus, in the Career Library, from Feb-May, academic success workshops are offered. Call 801-957-4978 or e-mail SLCCAcademicStandard@slcc.edu to schedule a time. Also visit www.slcc.edu/studyskills for other helpful information to become better, more proactive students.