The general rule of college is to study two to three hours per unit, per week, but what does this mean for full- time students who work 30-plus hours a week?
Leeonny Velasquez is a junior at CSU Bakersfield who also works as a barista at a retail coffee shop. Velasquez said she originally planned to take five classes this semester, but found the pressure of attending work and school overwhelming and had to drop a class. “Now I feel like I have gotten a lot more hours at work, so much so I had to drop a class. Which isn’t my ideal choice, but I can’t take the pressure of both. It’s been a little chaotic for me. I’ve had a little trouble trying to balance school and work, and I can’t just not work. It’s not really an option for me.” said Velasquez.
Velasquez does try and make as much time as possible for school. Her shifts at work are typically from 4:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. so she can attend classes during the day. Velasquez often tries to catch up on lost sleep by napping between classes.
Many college students feel they do not have the option to limit their hours at work. Ryan Taylor is a first-year graduate student at CSUB and shift manager at a local trampoline park. Taylor said he has living and school expenses that his job helps pay for and cannot afford to take a break from work.
Comparatively, it seems students feel they do not get much of a break at all. “I feel like if I’m not at school, I’m at work, and if I’m not at work, I’m at school or doing something for school,” Taylor said. Taylor even tries to finish homework assignments during his scheduled work breaks.
The cycle of work and school has driven students like Velasquez and Taylor into burnout. Without even a day break from school or work, students feel exhausted and that they cannot perform their best in either their academic careers or jobs. Additionally, because these students spend almost all of their time at school or work, they do not have much time for themselves. Abigail Hillie, a CSUB junior and former Target employee, said she did not have the time or energy to focus on other things such as exercise.
Furthermore, the demand for quality workers has only increased in the post-quarantine world. Many companies have been understaffed since the pandemic hit and are trusting their more efficient employees to handle the extra workload.
“I always felt like there was way too much work that needed to be done and not enough people to do it. I was called almost all of my off days and asked if I wanted to work extra shifts. I felt they needed me at all times, and I need-ed to do more work than I could do,” Hillie stated.
The pressures of work and school have left students feeling tired and torn. Velasquez and Taylor suggested more flexible deadlines and less busywork to aid working students in their academic journeys.
Hillie wanted her former employer and professors to know, “I am human too. I’m a person who needs to have time for themselves. I can make mistakes, and I have struggles too. Be understanding and kind and help me so then I can do my best.”