5 Tips for Preparing Seniors for Working While Going to College

College is a huge transition for high school seniors. All of a sudden, students go from having a highly structured day to being responsible for managing their own time. There are also new responsibilities, especially if they will be living away from home and working while attending school.

Getting a job is a great way for college students to offset the cost of a degree, reduce their debt load, and gain experience in the workforce. However, it can be challenging for incoming freshmen to balance their schoolwork with the demands of a part-time job.

As a counselor, you can help set students up for success if they plan to work while attending college.

Discuss Time Management

High school students heading to college should already know how to manage their time to some extent. However, balancing a full school schedule in high school is quite different from balancing college courses and a job. Preparing students for these new demands means discussing time management with them and suggesting methods for staying on top of all their responsibilities.

You might go over concepts like time blocking and using tools like a digital calendar and Trello to ensure that schoolwork is turned in on time and work obligations don’t fall through the cracks. Because each person is different, it’s best to give students resources for creating their own time management system. That way, they can develop a system that works for them.

Help Students Learn How to Find the Right Kind of Job

Although jobs in college aren’t likely to be “career” jobs, that doesn’t mean students can’t get more out of them than a paycheck. Talk to students about their interests and guide them toward looking for part-time jobs that align with their interests and abilities.

If a student is interested in becoming a veterinarian, you could suggest that they find a job at a veterinary office or boarding kennel so they can get some firsthand experience and find out if they like the environment. Or, if they eventually want to work in business, they might want to work in an administrative role. Those who want to become teachers could work at a daycare center.

Students can gain valuable experience before they even finish their degree if they’re willing to put in the effort and find a job that is relevant to their future careers.

Encourage Students to Consider Online Classes

College schedules are more flexible than high school schedules, but students still have to arrive on time for their in-person classes. This can be tricky with work scheduling, especially since class times change every semester or quarter. One solution to this is taking classes online, which are much more flexible than in-person classes.

There are many benefits to choosing online classes, especially for students who are trying to graduate with less debt. Many students can continue living at home while they attend online classes, reducing their living expenses during college. Online classes are also more convenient and make it easier to manage both school and work.

Emphasize Communication

Students need to know that it’s okay to ask for help if they feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities. Talk to them about the need for open communication with their teachers and supervisors.

Most people are understanding and will be accommodating if there is communication before a potential conflict occurs. Although it’s not always possible for people in authority to provide flexibility, it doesn’t hurt to ask, and students need to know that communication is always preferable to saying nothing and simply letting work or school suffer.

Provide Self-Care Tips

The pressure can be overwhelming for new college students to do well in school. That, combined with the need to perform well at work, can lead to stress, overwhelm, and other problems. Students need to practice healthy self-care in order to manage their mental health and promote well-being.

Helping students understand why self-care like getting enough sleep and exercise is so important is critical. They won’t build time into their schedules for these essentials if they think that pulling an all-nighter is a good way to get an A on their next test.

Go over different types of self-care and stress-management techniques that students can use to proactively improve their mood, focus, and productivity. You should also talk about ways to de-escalate when overwhelm and anxiety occur.

Helping Students Succeed in College and Work

Balancing college and a part-time job is doable if students are prepared for the challenges. While a counselor can only do so much to help students succeed, it’s important to discuss the potential challenges and come up with a game plan before a student graduates and moves on to higher education.

Be honest with students about the reality of working while attending school. Giving students the pros and cons, plus the tools they need to be successful, will allow them to find their way and earn money while still doing well in their classes.