As a university student, one of my biggest worries is money. We all want enough money to do everything we want to do with friends, afford the perfect study materials and technology, eat good food. Somehow, we never have enough of it and the ideal solution is to work. But, with school being a big responsibility, you can imagine that it gets quite hectic managing everything. Studying, working, social life, family life. Its a lot.
During the first year of University, I did not have a job. In fact, I refused to have a job since I wanted to embrace the full university experience and focus on my studies. In the second year, I decided to go out and get a job with the mindset that life is only going to get harder, and by having a job and school going on, I will learn time management
Here is my experience
During the first year of university, I found that I had a lot of free time. I handle my studies the best I could, but I was able to find time to relax, hang out with friends and have a social life. It was because I had this free time, I also procrastinated a lot and did not do the best in school. For me, I find that I always need to be busy in order to get things done, not only on time but being busy allows me to put in my best work. To add, money was not really a problem. I lived on residence with a meal plan so I did not spend a lot of money going out to eat since there was a lot of food options on campus that I took advantage of (Thanks mom and dad). I rarely found myself in a position desperate for money (maybe once during the holidays buying presents for anyone).
So, the first year, I did not have a job which gave me a lot of free time to spend with friends but, surprisingly, reflected poorly on my studying.
It was because I had a lot of free time that I decided to use that time effectively going into second year by getting a part-time job and earning money. And that is what I did.
So, I went into the second year with a job, new courses, and a new apartment which meant new expenses.
From a school perspective, surprisingly, I was doing better in my classes. I managed to increase my average while working roughly 15–20 hours a week in a mall. But, this came at a cost. I missed out on a lot of social events with friends. I barely spent time with them since I either had to finish an assignment or I had to go to work. A lot of the time, whenever I was with my friends, it would be for school work. And even when I did go out, I found myself constantly thinking about school and work and how I will manage my time. I prioritized work and studying over my social life. I don’t regret what I did, but it is something that I wish I found more of a balance of.
Here is what I recommend
For anyone who is entering first year, I would not suggest getting a job unless you absolutely need one. Go into your first studying term to see what your workload is like. With every program, you’ll have a different workload, team projects, etc. Everyone handles studying differently, you will have different courses and work and manages their time differently. To add, if you are living on residence, that is a whole other experience that you would not want to miss. Living in a dorm with my best friend was one of the best parts of my first year.
After first year (or your first term), and you think you will be able to handle a job and studying, then you have to think. What do you care about more? In University, the three ways you can spend your time is studying, working, or going out and having a social life. As someone who has tried to have all three, believe me, it’s near impossible. I was constantly stressed, and I was never able to enjoy all three. So, you have to choose which one to let go. For me, during the second year, I decided to let go of my social life. I did go out a few times, don’t get me wrong. But the number of parties and events that I was unable to go to was more than the ones I was able to. This also included many on-campus events which I had a lot of friends going to, but I was not able to because I had to finish an assignment or I had to go to work.
Entering my third year, I have decided to let go of the job for a bit and spend more time focusing on my social life and spending time with my roommates. In addition, I also changed my major which I also want to focus on and make sure that I can handle the workload before trying to find another job. School is something that I am not willing to sacrifice (especially since I am trying to get into law school).
Having some extra cash in University is always helpful. But, it comes at a cost of either your grades or going out. I will say, for me, being consistently busy made me happy. I enjoyed always having something to do and being focused. So, while I may not have a job during my third year, I have got some other projects that I am working on to make sure that I am engaged and working as hard as I can.