How to balance part-time work and your degree

12 Jun 2017
Student studying on laptop

Getting a job is part of the university experience for a lot of students. Whether you need some extra cash for your bills or you want to become more independent, getting a job is a great way to improve your CV whilst also learning how to manage your finances and your time.

Here are some tips for making sure that you balance work and study, so that you can excel in both.

Work less than 15 hours a week 

It may be tempting to pick up every extra shift, but that £20 won’t make as much difference as a good night’s sleep and a finished essay!

Try to have a flexible job 

...such as at the Student Union or places where hours are flexible. This will enable you to change how much you work depending on what you need. One week you may power through and get lots done so you can pick up another shift, but another week you may have more uni work than you expected.

Work over the holidays

Whilst you still have uni work over the holidays, Christmas is a great time to get a lot of hours in or work a temporary job. Summer is long for most students so there’s time for everything.  Many third-year students are leaving their jobs behind in the summer, so it’s a great time for first and second-year students to swoop in and get a job.

Work close to where you live

Especially if you commute for uni. The time can be productive, but for most of us we aren’t going to be doing useful revision or studying on the way to or from work. A short commute is fine, but if it’s in an entirely different town that takes three buses and then a 20 minute walk to get to, you might consider working somewhere that’s less of a nightmare to reach!

Stay organised

Make sure you have enough time for work and yourself. Timetable your week and keep on top of assignment deadlines and other important dates. Make a list each week of all the things you need to do each day, especially if you work in the evening and need to get things done before.

Reduce hours around exams and deadlines

...if possible! That’s another reason why it’s good not to try and work 20 hour weeks from the start of semester – if you work a less flexible job, you might not realise how many hours that really is until you have four topics to revise in one night.


You can catch-up if you’re ill once or twice in a semester, but missing class for work is a bad path to get on.

Use it to your advantage

Because you have less hours to fit everything in, for many people this helps them manage their time more effectively and become much more productive.

Ask for support if you need it

If you’re really struggling financially, or just with time management, Student Services and your personal tutor can offer some advice to help get back on track.

About the author

Corinna Williams - BA (Hons) Creative and Professional Writing

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