Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today is from Lucy in Olney, Illinois. I go to school and work at the same time. I am either working or studying and it has taken a toll on me. I cannot stop worrying about one or the other. The anxiety attacks come to me if I am at a job or I think about school, and I get a dry throat if I am in a mall with lots of people and I get anxiety attacks.
Well, it clearly sounds like you’re overworked. Maintaining employment while going to school is a challenge. Been there, done that. I worked full time while taking full time classes. That was at least 80 hours a week on a slow week. It was utterly exhausting and that was in my early 20s.
People who attempt to work while going to school typically do it because they have to. They don’t have the financial means to be only a full time student. They need a source of income, so then you work. Unless it’s a very high paying job, you will probably need to work full time, so here’s the conundrum. If you want to have a professional career with advancement opportunities, a high salary and prestige, then you need to go to college or you may find yourself in a series of low paying jobs indefinitely. So how do you balance both without stressing so much that your school and your work performance diminishes to the point where you can’t do either of them?
Start with time management. You must use every minute of the day with maximum efficiency and be very focused. There are numerous sources available which address time management as well as study and test taking skills. You may have to make a choice and either work fewer hours or attend college part time and take a little bit longer to complete your degree. It’s also important to communicate with your employer and your professors.
I teach college and I’m willing to make some allowances for students who are also working. I will take an assignment a little bit late, give extensions, or excuse absences, but only if I know what’s really going on. Otherwise, then I just tend to assume the student is lazy or unmotivated.
Every professor will have a different way of operating and they may or may not be sympathetic to your plight, but you don’t know until you ask. Employers may be even less sympathetic and simply tell you to work the hours they want at maximum performance or find another job. What you are taking on is not easy, I know.
Another way to deal with the stress is to focus on the rewards. Completing a college degree is a tremendous accomplishment which not everyone can do, and it will give you many rewards and not just financially. The way you look at the world and life will be very different than those who are not college educated. Stay focused on the goal to maintain your motivation and fortitude and look forward to your breaks and use those well. In between semesters you may get some down time or at least have to only concentrate on working instead of both school and work.