5 Tips for Balancing Work & School

May 11, 2022

For many students, adding a part-time job to an already hectic schedule of school, extracurriculars, and social activities may seem overwhelming. It’s difficult to prioritize work experience over the many fun activities offered in and out of school.

Each individual student has their own motivations for seeking and holding a part-time job. Some may benefit from the additional income to support daily life or even social activities, while others may want to get a head start on their work experience, or turn a hobby into a paid gig. 

CTA: Want to apply for a part-time job, but you’re not sure where to start? Explore our Career Clusters for motivation and contact your local CTE educator or counselor to learn about part-time opportunities available through our business and community partners. 

Regardless of the motivating factors, there are a lot of benefits to having a part-time job in high school. No matter the field or industry of the job, you can sharpen your skills, take on new challenges, and learn important life lessons that can reshape your approach to the future. This job can even be a crucial first step in pursuing your dream career. Of course, a part-time job also comes with additional income.

Many students will admit that it can be overwhelming to juggle a 20-hour workweek and attend school full-time. Because of this, students must be focused and willing to put in the additional effort to succeed. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you find balance. Here are a few of our favorites:

Plan Ahead

When you have a lot going on, it can be easy to get distracted trying to address all of your responsibilities. Setting aside time to plan allows you to review everything that needs to get done and set your plan of attack for the day, week, or month. The most basic plan to start with is how you will get to class and work on time.

To achieve this, make sure to list down the things you will be doing hour by hour including your classes, work, extracurricular activities, events, recreational activities, and even socializing. The best tool for this type of planning is a calendar or planner. For a calendar, you can access it from multiple devices at any time, consider Google Calendar or the calendar app on your iPhone. Another option is a written day planner. This is less accessible and an extra item to carry around, but it can be a great mental exercise for you because you get to write your tasks. The use of pen and paper also limits distractions which can be useful in managing your time properly.

You are more likely to succeed if you have a clear view of your schedule and deadlines. You can update it daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on your preference. Remember, prioritization is your best friend so an organized calendar and clear game plan guarantee you devoted time specific to work or school.

Break Down Your Tasks

One way to cope with feeling overwhelmed by the total number of tasks given at work and at school is by breaking down large tasks into a smaller, more manageable, to-do list. Start by listing the high-level task. Consider every step that needs to be completed to check that off of your list. Add smaller subtasks you can complete to work towards the big picture task. Writing all of this down also helps you pinpoint if you forgot something or if you need to revisit a task you already worked on. You can make use of a notes app, reminders app, or a notebook. The best tool will be one that gives you the ability to clearly denote tasks and subtasks.

Once you have all of your tasks and subtasks written out, you can proceed with planning and prioritizing. Ask yourself:

  • What are some things you can get done now? 
  • Which tasks are going to take the most time? 
  • Do I need the help of anyone else to complete these tasks (group projects, a ride to work, feedback from a teacher, etc..)

Communicate Clearly

It is important to be transparent about being a working student because it allows the people around you to know your commitments. Your teachers and employers most likely want you to succeed. Having school or work is not an excuse for special circumstances, but knowing your situation may allow your mentors at both work and school to help guide you to success. 

More so, communicating about what’s on your plate can also help you in the long run because it affects your way of dealing with work, school, and even family. This is a workplace skill that will be valuable for you in the future. 

Take Breaks

When you constantly push yourself to meet deadlines and commitments, especially when you start to feel drained, it can make it harder to focus and be productive. Oftentimes, this leads to burn-out and it affects your overall lifestyle. Some signs of burn-out include falling asleep in class, missing work deadlines, and losing interest in their job and studies. 

With this in mind, it is important to acknowledge when you need to rest in order to recharge and realign your thoughts. Although it can be difficult when you are busy, remember to build in time to rest and relax. Some examples of restful activities are getting a full 8-hours of sleep, going for a walk, visiting with a friend, or getting into a hobby. Incorporating rest and relaxation into your routine makes you more efficient with your daily tasks because you are not exhausting yourself.

Celebrate Your Wins

Even as you get consumed by work and school, remember to celebrate your achievements and accomplishments. Celebrating your wins, big or small, provides the positive reinforcement that we all need. It also helps to keep your goals and motivations in sight so you can remember why you’re doing this in the first place. 

Gratifying the work and effort you put in teaches you to appreciate your skills, feel thankful for your mentors, and push yourself to never settle. Taking a moment to reflect on what you accomplished encourages you to be more productive and hopeful to achieve again.


Considering that balancing work and school requires at least twice as much effort, it is a big move for any student. Committing to both priorities shows how dedicated, passionate, and hardworking you are.

It is no secret that having to work and study at the same time is not for everyone. Not all students have what it takes. This is why Delaware Pathways works with students and business partners to create employment opportunities that blend the two together. 

Delaware Pathways connects students, communities, and employers through high-quality career pathways. The pathways enable students to gain the real-world experience needed for successful, in-demand jobs. Most importantly, students enrolling in a Pathway Program will be able to master their target career plan while still in school. 

Take your first step in your career today!


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