Working and learning full-time


Because of varying financial situations, many students find themselves simultaneously in two positions: full-time student and full-time employee.

Balancing work life and school life can be tough. It takes a disciplined person to manage time down to the hour. Making room for a social life is near impossible. Basic things like showering, eating and sleeping are almost seen as a chore.

First-year student Celeste Lowe works about 22 hours a week at a pizza joint close to home. Before starting school this year, she’d never had to rely on coffee. Now she always drinks coffee before her morning classes.

Among other changes, she has also had to figure out how to manage her time and regularly map out her day.

“I keep close watch of the syllabi and plan accordingly,” Lowe said. “I make mental notes to work on things but sometimes it can be flustering when I have to work on the day something is due.”

Since she has to wake up at six, Lowe has to reduce her sleeping schedule to sometimes less than five hours a night.

Dr. David Schwartz, psychologist and director of the Oakland University Counseling Center, recommends about seven to nine hours of sleep for a student.

“Sleep deprivation has been compared to functioning as someone who has ingested alcohol,” Schwartz said. “It can affect a person’s ability to remember information or make quick decisions.”

Time management is important to those who are attending school and working on the side.

Kristiana Hila, a first-year nursing student, is used to the craziness of school and work. In addition to taking 13 credits, she works close to 30 hours as a hostess and drives a 30-minute commute to school every day.

“I chose to work and go to OU at the same time because it teaches me time management, how to be knowable at other things, and manage stress levels,” Hila said.

Since entering the nursing program, Hila has had to reduce her hours and prioritize how she spends her free time outside of class or work.

“My advice to younger students is to enjoy everything while you can and keep in mind that it’s all worth it,” Hila said. “Embrace the struggle.”

Sometimes a student has to accept that their load is too big and to reduce their time at school in order to take care of things that need to be done.

“Some things are not possible and a lot of the time you have a choice,” Schwartz said. “Drop a class or take a semester off.”

Schwartz likes to use the metaphor of athletes and their training.

“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” he said.

Senior and business major Lisa Fresard took a break from school life and is now starting back up again. She is a personal trainer at the gym Art of Strength and works about 80 hours a week with over 35 clients. She is only taking two classes but doesn’t mind “taking it slow.”

At Oakland University, it is nearing final exam time and students can probably feel it in their nerves. Students feeling overwhelmed and who are having trouble managing time can stop in at the Graham Health Center and talk to wellness coach Julie Proctor or make an appointment to see a personal counselor.