How to manage working & studying full time

Working & studying full time

Working and studying full time can be a challenge. The thought of juggling study alongside work, and everything else might seem intimidating at first.

But it’s possible and in fact, can bring many benefits.

One of these is better financial control – you can pay for your tuition or bills while you study and save for the future.

Another is that the skills you gain from working full time or part time may prove helpful as your career develops.

It is possible to balance your time between work and study. It just requires organisation, planning and a bit of self-discipline.

Here's some advice on how to manage study with a full-time job.

Organise & plan

Although balancing work and study commitments can seem overwhelming, it is possible. Self-discipline and organisation are key, when choosing to study and work full time.

Can I decrease my study load when I realise that I am not able to manage my studies?

When studying under the VU Block Model®, you complete one subject at a time over a four week ‘block’, usually with three, three-hour classes per week.

This focused timetable is designed to give you more time for everything else that's important in your life, including work.

I am working during the day. Is it possible to choose classes at night?

Under the VU Block Model® you can choose from a flexible range of class times (morning, mid-morning, afternoon and evening), to make sure your classes and work hours do not overlap.

Undergraduate students can also take time off for work and still finish their year on schedule.

Once you have your class timetable, you can highlight deadlines for assessments, papers and presentations.

Create a study plan, so you have designated times in your week and day for both work and study. Make sure you add in time for fun and relaxation too, to balance your schedule. Read more about how to make an effective study plan.

Inform your employer

There will be inevitable moments where your work and study schedules clash. Make sure your employer knows you are studying. This way, you can work out a schedule that benefits you both.

Your manager will probably be supportive of your study, if it doesn't impact your performance at work. Make sure you let them know:

  • class times and placements
  • time off you may need for study
  • changes to your working hours.

Many employers offer study leave. By keeping your manager in the loop, you can take this leave as needed.

In addition to offering study leave, some businesses may provide sponsorship for upskilling. If you're pursuing professional development in your current field, your study benefits your employer too. Have a chat with your manager, to see what options are available to you.

University staff are aware that many students have work commitments. If you find yourself struggling with a deadline due to work, talk to your tutors. At Victoria University we provide learning advice, to support students.

Be realistic & don't overdo it

Some students underestimate their study load. This can lead to negative impacts on their work and studies and increase their stress levels.

At some universities, as you head towards the end of a semester, assignment deadlines and exams need your full attention. It can be a challenge to balance your work and study commitments.

Under VU's Block Model®, the end of semester is not a frantic period. As you are studying one unit at a time, your assessments are scheduled evenly across the semester.

Block model students don't need to worry about exams at the end of the semester, as your course mark is made up of assignments, presentations and group work.

If you need to take a break from learning due to work, you can pause your studies for a block or two and return when you're ready.

Focus on your end goal & the reward

Juggling study and work can be stressful and, at times, overwhelming. You may have moments where you’ll question why you chose to do both at the same time.

In times like this, it’s important to keep your end goal in mind. Visualising what you hope to achieve can help you stay motivated.

You can do this by creating a vision board of what you want your life to look like, once you’ve completed your studies. You may be working full time to pay off tuition fees as you go, saving for a specific goal, or hoping to change careers.

Having a visual representation of your end game will help motivate you when you need it most.

Don't leave things until the last minute

Both university and work have moments where they need more attention than you may initially expect. Allow for this by scheduling extra time in your study schedule.

There are many benefits to creating a buffer in your schedule. If anything unexpected pops up at work, it won’t impact your study time. You won’t find yourself having to stay up all night cramming or rushing to finish an assessment at the last minute.

Break your assessments, papers or study down into manageable steps or goals. Then use the pockets of extra time you've scheduled for yourself, to tick off tasks.

You’ll have better mental health for it and won’t feel stressed over looming deadlines.

VU can help you succeed in your studies through our Advising for Success program.

Use your free time productively

There are plenty of opportunities throughout an average day (or work day) to fit in extra study:

  • read class notes on your phone while waiting in line
  • create flash cards and quiz yourself on the train to work
  • do your readings on your lunch break.

If you can, use your semester break to work more hours. This will give you financial flexibility to take time off for study as needed.

VU offers a range of summer and winter school elective units for students to take during semester breaks, so you can gain credits towards your qualification at a much faster pace.

These summer and winter blocks allow you to fast-track your study, as you can complete up to ten subjects a year.

If you’re on a set work schedule, you can use your university break to get across, or even ahead, of the study material. This way you can start each class feeling prepared and divide your time between study and work, as needed.

Get adequate sleep

Sleep is the cornerstone to success in any endeavour in life. Working or studying for too long can reduce your performance – particularly if these commitments cut into your sleep.

Try to keep to a regular sleep schedule, where you are going to bed and waking up at the same time of day. Ensure you are getting the same amount of sleep every night – as much as your body and mind need to function well.

Make sure you give yourself breaks from studying. Rather than staying up all night, go to bed at a decent time, then wake up early to study. You will feel far more rested and able to perform better for it.

Manage stress

There will be moments while you are working and studying full time that will be inevitably stressful.

If you find ways to manage your stress, you can stay focused and productive and will be able to face any challenge that comes your way.

Here are some tips to reduce stress levels while working and studying:

  • take up yoga or meditation, to balance your body and mind
  • schedule yourself regular breaks
  • make time for the things that make you happy, outside of work and study – reading, gaming or spending time with family and friends.

Keep your body healthy

A healthy body goes hand in hand with a healthy mind. Taking care of your health can help improve your mental performance and enable you to reach your study goals.

Eat a nutritious, balanced diet, incorporating high-protein vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. It'll keep your body and brain nourished and help you take on difficult tasks at university or work.

Having a meal plan will save time and money. You can even cook your meals while studying. Record your notes and listen to them while you chop veggies or do your readings while your dinner is in the oven.

VU also offers free, healthy frozen meals to eat at home.

Alongside a nutritious diet, make time in your study schedule for regular exercise:

  • join our gym and attend classes
  • take a dip in our swimming pool
  • join one of VU's sports clubs
  • walk, run or ride your bike outside: VU's River Runners run distances of 3-5km weekly.

This will help improve your academic performance and give you designated breaks around study, too.

How will you manage your time between work & study?

How you manage your time between work and study is ultimately up to you and your circumstances. It will depend on how much you work, what you are studying and what your end goal is.

No single plan will work for every student. This is where a study plan can be a great help, as you can tailor it to your needs.

By following these tips, you should be able to create a study schedule that works for you.

You’ll maintain a healthy balance between work and study – and find time for everything else important in life.