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Balancing Work And Higher Education

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Welcome to the real world, young people. No longer are we having everything paid for by our parents, no longer are we having our meals prepared, our washing done and our homes tidied for us. No longer are we in receipt of a regular stream of pocket money that will keep us ticking by with enough to go to the cinema, out with our friends, and buy ourselves a few treats when we fancy it – all for nothing. And, no longer are we coming home every night to the familiar and loving family that has been looking after us since the very second that we were born.

No. All that has gone, and has, for the most part, gone forever. And, what is more, we are not even any longer told what to study and how to think and even how to feel about certain issues. We have left mandatory and further education behind us forever, and now we are truly in the realms of academia in the form of higher education.

Yes, we now have to think for ourselves, take care of ourselves, tidy up after ourselves and, most importantly of all, provide for ourselves. True, we will be in receipt of some grants, maybe a couple of bursaries, and perhaps even a student loan or two – but, in this day and age more than ever, these monies might still not be enough to allow us to do everything that we want to do.

And, as students – which is to say fledgelings, spreading our wings and flapping frantically away from home for the very first time – we want to do a lot. Hell, we want to do everything.

We want to stay out all night partying, we want to go out to restaurants, go on dates, meet new people, attend rock concerts, join rallies, get involved with the local sports teams, take those evening classes that will teach us how to cook or speak French, plus a whole lot more besides.

The world is finally our oyster, and we’re going to grab it by the lapel and go the whole hog.

But, in order to do so, we need money. And, if our loans, grants and bursaries are not going to cover the costs of all of our ambitions, then we are going to need a job to get us that extra money.

Let’s Not Forget Our Studies 

On top of wanting to conquer the world, we must also remember not to neglect the very reason that we are here at university in the first place – to further our educations and ultimately attain a degree qualification. And that, in fact, as you may have already found, is somewhat of a full-time job in the first place – how on Earth do we expect to fit a part time job in as well as our studies, seeing everything that we want to see and experiencing everything that we want to experience?

I say again – welcome to the real world, young people.

But, don’t fret. You’re not the first young person that has had to grow up, and you will actually find that there is time to fit in everything that you want t do with your new-found freedom – but I’m afraid that it will all have to start with the adoption of the correct attitude.

Attitude Still? 

‘Fraid so, young people. I’m well aware that you’ve probably been ignoring all those teachers and parents who have for years been telling you that you need a change of attitude – and you probably told them where to stick it.

But, you can’t do that any longer, young people. In fact, I shouldn’t even be addressing you as “young people” any longer. You are adults just like all the rest of us, and so you are people, simple and plain.

And, as people in this world, you need now to very quickly start adopting a truly positive attitude towards your work and your studies. This is your moment where you really start to grow up. Work is work. Some people hate it, and I feel sorry for them, for we all have to do it, and so we might as well make the experience as enjoyable four ourselves as possible. And again, that comes down to our attitudes.

And the same goes for our studies – presumably, you have chosen to pursue a subject that interests you and that you are passionate about. This is great. It means that once you leave university you will be in a great position to start looking for a career that will actually inspire you – and if you end up in a job that you love then you will never have to work again.

But, for the time being, you are probably going to have to wash some dishes somewhere, work in a shop where you don’t particularly like the manager, or perhaps wait on in a restaurant at the mercy of a rather severe and largely unforgiving head chef. And so you should, for we all have had to do that at some point in our lives, and you will find that it will be a great experience for you.

So, now that we have firmly established that there is no way of getting out of working whilst you’re at uni, here’re some very simple tips for how to cope with it.

Tips On Balancing Work With University in Sheffield


  • Make sure that your academic work is your priority. You need enough time to do this, and it’s the reason you’re at uni.
  • Take time off when exams start. Talk to your employer, he or she should be understanding if you are honest with them and should try and accommodate your needs – they will probably have children of their own and were young once themselves of course.
  • Try and timetable your whole life so that you’ve got plenty of time for work, study and socialising. We’ve all got to work at uni, and we’ve all got to study, but we are all here to find ourselves as well, and part of that happens through socialising, but another part of it happens through our ability to organise ourselves and make mature decisions about how we lead our lives.


  • Go to work when you should be at your classes or lectures. This misses the point entirely, and you will be putting your degree in jeopardy. It’s all about balance, but your studies must always come first.

Commit to a job that is located too far away from campus. This will cost you a lot on transport in the first instance, and you will quickly find that you are spending too much time on the road, and not enough time learning, working and growing.


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