Motivation For College Students That Work

College Students That Work

If you’re a college student that juggles studies with work you know how difficult it can get at times. You know what I’m referring to- the long days, the short sleeps, early morning anxiety, and the last minute stress.

I was initially going to throw out a list of ways to stay motivated as a college student that holds a job but I figured I would just say write whatever is on my mind without any particular format. It is a blog after all, right?

Just remember that it will all be over one day. Your studies will be completed. You will have a degree in your hand. You will graduate from college debt free or with minimal student debt. You may even have some money saved up in your bank account. This financially buffer will alleviate some of the stress that comes along with the career hunt after college. You won’t have to jump at the first offer that comes your way (unless it’s an amazing one).

Obviously life won’t get easier after college but at least the stress of studying for exams and worrying about earning the grades you want will go away. Now you can push yourself in a totally different discipline. The discipline of the real world. The discipline of finding that first career and negotiating your starting salary.

Another way to stay motivated when working during the school year is to use some of the money to reward yourself. This doesn’t mean to pick up a serious drinking or smoking habit. That will only make things worse for you. However, there is nothing wrong with planning a weekend trip a few times a semester. I choose to plan a week vacation at the end of every semester to keep me sane and motivated throughout the tough times. In the back of my mind I stay focused knowing that once I write my final exam I will be gone for a week.

Others just simply need a quick escape at the end of the day or at the end of a long week to stay motivated while working through college. What is the escape for you? Some common escapes include: alone time, playing video games, a free drinks with friends, a workout, playing your favorite sport, etc.

Before I conclude I wanted to throw out one more idea. Think of working as a way to keep yourself focused and out of trouble. If you were not to work you may spend most of your time studying. On the other hand, all of that free time may not be good for you. Personally I know that free time is not the best option for me. When I have free time my mind tends to wander. I look at my to-do list in the morning and then by night time the list remains identical. On paper free time is perfect for completing all of your school work. Realistically, let’s be honest. Most of the free time is spent watching the Hills or old UFC fights. So if you ever are low on time, look at it from this perspective. If you were at home there is no guarantee you would be 100% focused on your school.

How do you stay motivated while working during the school year?


  1. Edwin says

    Using my own college experience along with that of friends and co-workers, I tend to disagree about your sentiment on student loans. It is true that you will go into the workplace with quite a bit of debt (particularly for more expensive degrees) but I think that debt isn’t as bad as the alternatives I’ve seen.

    I know multiple people who dropped out of school because they were so adverse to debt that they had to work full time and go to school at the same time. Some had very poor grades and had to repeat classes multiple times while others just didn’t see the benefit in continuing to pay such a large portion of their income for school.

    I took out student loans and it gave me plenty of time to do well in school and to actually have a life outside of school and work (I did work part time also).

    Before someone considers whether to apply for student loans or to attempt and work through it and stay out of debt, they should really decide if that type of schedule can mess with their chances of completing school. This is based on purely personal experience and I don’t have any true statistical numbers to back up this opinion.

  2. says

    @Erwin Was hoping to hear that perspective!

    My rebuttal to your argument would be that working during the school year is definitely not for everyone. It wasn’t for me either until I realized how much more fun I can have down south as opposed to on bars around campus.

    I also absolutely hate debt. I’m willing to sleep 3 hours a night at times if it means I will graduate debt free. Not the smartest idea but I never said I was the smartest guy lol.

    I will recommend this for anyone that is not willing to work during the school year- find a program with work terms. My cousin does this. One semester he’s in school and the next semester he works. It may take longer graduate but he’s having a blast while integrating the theory with the practical.

    If you want to finish college asap then that’s cool as well.

  3. says

    I’m always so impressed if students can study, party and work at the same time.

    It’s hard enough trying to get straight A’s to land yourself that high paying gig out of college, to be able to get A’s and work is out of this world!

    I couldn’t hack it, making $5/hour in the library so I did some daytrading instead. I ended up probably losing $3,000! haha. But, what it did do was prepare me for a life in finance and I’m very thankful for that.

    • says

      @FS Don’t worry I think everyone in the cyber world has lost some money on day trading.

      The reason all 3 can be done is because junk is cut out. I realized that if I stopped watching TV and spending hours on Facebook I could be 100x more productive. The partying is a rare occurrence when both school and work are in session but it is definitely something that keeps me sane.

      What do you do in the working world to keep sane M-F?

  4. Chris says

    Juggling work and study is a struggle; I work between 12 and 20 hours a week in an office about 30 mins bus ride from my university. Obviously the money is good, and it’s good to be gaining experience in the ‘real’ world alongside university, but it took a while to get the two parts of my life in sync. I missed some classes when I started working due to tiredness, and a few times I’ve missed work too. After a couple of weeks though it started to settle down and I managed to keep it all going smoothly even through deadline/exam period.

    Definitely recommend it though, as you said, the prospect of reducing graduation debt is a very pleasant one!

  5. d says

    One of the methods i use to motivate myself is setting up a countdown calendar which shows how many days I have left until payday. Whenever I get frustrated I just look at the days left and eventually start working again efficiently. However, I’m still in the transition stage and I often miss out on a couple of my classes. I hope I can get the hang of balancing work and school at the same time.

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