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Full Time, School and Work?

  1. Sep 4, 2009 #1
    Right now I work as a server full time. I put in about 40 hours a week on the clock, but I'm usually there at least 43/45 hours a week, depending. A week when I don't go into overtime hasn't happened in a while now.

    I want to start school full time in the Spring semester (Undergrad, physics major at my local community college. I plan to transfer after two years), but I can't *not* work. I don't think I can get loans yet, and I'm not sure how much financial aid will cover (My parents can't contribute anything, and I live in another state, so I'm hoping all of community college fees), but I still need to do things like eat, pay rent, get gas, etc.

    What I want to know is, has anyone worked full time and gone to school full time? Is it possible to be able to handle it successfully? I've been waiting to go to school for a painfully long time right now, and just had ANOTHER setback - I was supposed to start this fall - but I realize I just can't afford to not be working. Most of the kids I know going to school live with their parents, so if they work part time it's for gas money, fast food, clothes, etc. How much of a disadvantage am I trying to do this? Is it even possible?

    I guess I'm just looking for reassurance that it's possible! :P
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2009 #2


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    Full time job and full time school doesn't leave a whole lot of time for too much else.

    It can be done, but I'm sure you're already aware of the consequences. If you're putting 40 hours into work, that's 40 hours that are not going into studies or down time. I managed to work through part of undergrad and through graduate school, but I personally found that as soon as I started pushing 20 hours, things got a little too tight for comfort. My marks started to suffer, and more importantly, I had less time to explore the ideas I was interested in and a lot of my physics time was basically just moving from assignment to assignment.

    The trick is really to balance things out. As a server I assume that you have reasonably flexible hours. That will help. You may want to look elsewhere for a job too - something that pays a little more, or maybe something that will allow you some book time on the job. Another thing is to balance your course load. If you have to dedicate so much time to work, you may have to drop a few courses to make time - maybe take 0.8 of a full course load. Obviously this is not ideal, but it can mean the difference between success and failure.
  4. Sep 4, 2009 #3
    work and school do not mix. you will never accomplish everything you want to in school if you have to work at the same time. that said, you gots to do what you gots to do....
  5. Sep 4, 2009 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    I have many adult students that work; my University even specifically caters to 'nontraditional' students by offering night-time sections of required classes (and labs).

    It's hard. The students struggle. However, those students are generally more focused, more mature, and more conscientious than many of the 'traditional' students, possibly because they see a clear link between their degree and improving their job situation.

    A key step is getting buy-in from your employer. It can be as little as not having overtime, or it can be 'flex-time' allowances, etc.

    Good luck!
  6. Sep 5, 2009 #5


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    I wish you the best of luck!

    I worked through college too, and I started out on the path you're trying for. I quickly realized that I couldn't do it...no way, no how.

    So I went the way of working part time, and schooling part time.

    Don't put off starting school simply because you can't go full time. Take at least one class. At least then you'll get a good idea of how much college classes take.
  7. Sep 5, 2009 #6
    In my experience, working a full time job (as well as family repsonsibilities) is the number one reason people fail out.

    For the first two years or so you may be able to juggle it (maybe), but it will be at the expense of your education. You are going to have to change it eventually so you can do some serious classes, undergrad research and the like. Lower your expenses by moving and budgeting and fill out that FASFA.

    I was able to make it without any parent support. I worked as a pizzadriver at about 25 hrs a week during my first two years and as a tutor at about 15 hrs a week for the last two years and ended up $18k in debt at graduation.
  8. Sep 5, 2009 #7
    could you go to school part time? government aid is usually awarded to students who are at least half time enrolled. i know in my area and in my circumstances, the government aid they gave me was enough to fully pay for my community college experience, and i just went part time.

    i still go part time and am a mom and work part time as well. it's doable. just know your limits. you don't want to go to school full time just because it feels like that's how you're supposed to go through college. most schools are supportive of non- traditional students like yourself, and understand taking a reduced course load.
  9. Sep 5, 2009 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    Full time school is a full time job. I have seen people succeed with 3/4 time work and 3/4 time school - which is still a huge amount of work, but I think the odds are much better with working 60 hours a week rather than 80.
  10. Sep 8, 2009 #9
    I am a financial aid officer at a university. Depending on your age (under 24 or over 24) and how much you made last year, you will be eligible for up to $5350 from the Federal Pell Grant (you can receive this max. amount if you are single, no dependents, over 24, and make less than $10,000 or so/year). The more you make, the less Pell grant you are eligible for in that case. The next form of financial aid is, of course, your federal student loans. If you are an independent student (over 24 or are married, have children you support, in military or legally emancipated from parents) you will be eligible for $3,500 in a subsidized student loan (no interest until 6 mo. after you leave school, then 5.6% fixed) and $6,000 in an unsubsidized student loan (fixed 6.8% interest). There are no payments until 6 mo. after you leave school. This $9,500 limit is per school year, and at a community college should be more than enough to cover tuition and most living expenses (if you are not eligible for the Pell grant). Once you earn 37 credits or more (becoming a sophmore) your total yearly limit will change from $9,500 to $10,500 (if an independent student). Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about your situation in particular, and I'd be happy to estimate for you your financial aid amounts to assist you in your decision making.
  11. Sep 18, 2009 #10
    Another thought is can you do anything to reduce your expenses so you don't have to work so many hours? Get a roommate, move to a studio apartment, cut cable and all unnecessary bills, etc. I totally agree with the others. Full-time school is a full-time job, especially considering the classes you will take for Physics are the hardest ones that the school will offer. My Chemistry teacher welcomed us to class by telling us that we were now taking the 3rd hardest class at the college - Calc-based Physics and Calculus being the top hardest classes.

    Definitely look into financial aid! There's lots of help out there. There's also ROTC, where the government pretty much pays for you to go to school and guarantees you a job as an officer when you are done. The only catch is they get to pick what you will be doing from that point...but if it gets you your education and you are flexible it can be a good experience.

    Good luck! Part-time is a great way to start.
  12. Sep 18, 2009 #11

    Math Is Hard

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    I've done it, but I had a little trick. I worked for the school I attended. That got me a 2/3 reduction in tuition as an employee discount, and I had the bonus of having really cool bosses who would let me flex my schedule to attend classes (which were nearby). And I didn't always do a full time school schedule - but it didn't matter because I had already knocked out the lower division courses at a community college (and a few upper divs, as well). I was in and out in just a little over 2 years.
  13. Nov 12, 2009 #12
    Being a student and working at the same is a feat not all college students can pull off. So take time to smile and take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eat healthy, and work out in your spare time. This helps your engines revved up and functioning to their optimum. Also do not forget to reward yourself for the hard work. Buy something for yourself other than the things needed for school. Lastly, remember this, you and your studies come first, not your http://www.gopinoy.com" [Broken].
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  14. Nov 12, 2009 #13
    It's doable, but not fun. Be prepared to do nothing but work and school. I work 40-45 hours a week and do 14-15 credit hours a semseter. My mom did the same, but was also raising two kids at the time. So showed me it is very possible. However she just about went nuts in the process. :)

    It also helps to have a flexible job that will let you adjust for different semesters and study times. I've gotten off of a work early a few times to study. The hardest part for me is meshing the two schedules together, not the actual work.

    However I am only at the Community College, so it isn't too hard to do both. We hope to have our bills paid down enough that I can work part time for the last few years of school.
  15. Nov 12, 2009 #14
    Don't let all these people bust your chops saying it can't/shouldn't be done. I worked full time throughout the majority of my BS degree. Well, technically not full time, I usually only worked 37.5 hours a week and usually had some overtime every couple of weeks. Anyway, its more than doable. I took about 12-16 credits per semester while working and still managed to pull above a 3.0 by the time I graduated.

    Don't expect to be a 4.0 student, you will have to make sacrifices. Not many people can pull off such a lifestyle successfully so if this is the path you want to go down you better damn well be committed. However, I think you will be a better person for it once your done as it really helps you build character.

    It also really helps to have a job thats related to the field your going into. I was a lab assistant at a couple places throughout my undergrad and it allowed me to combine some research projects from school with what I was doing at work. Not only are things like that time savers, but they are invaluable experiences.
  16. Nov 12, 2009 #15


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    My experience is that the vast majority of students cannot manage a full-time job (especially one that keeps you on your feet and you leave exhausted, rather than one where you sit at a desk and maybe can sneak in some studying during slow times) along with full time courses.

    A part time job and full-time school, sure, that gets done often. Even then, you'll be hard-pressed for time, but it's do-able. Or, full-time job and part-time school, that's completely do-able as well. Once in a while someone can manage full-time school and full-time work, but it's going to stretch you to the breaking point.

    My suggestion is to start out slow and figure out how much you can handle rather than risk overloading right from the start. Start out with just two courses, see how you manage it. If it goes well, take 3 courses in your next term. If it still goes well, add on the fourth. I would recommend that even as a full-time student, keep your credits to the minimum needed to maintain full-time status. It'll take longer than students who have nothing else to do but take 18 credits worth of classes in a semester, but there's no way you're going to keep up with them with a full-time job. 12 credits is going to be pushing your limits.
  17. Nov 13, 2009 #16
    Hi. I am new here actually I think this is my second post. Simply Solitary, although I did not work full time during my Masters, I did work 2 jobs at 35 hours a week each and went to school for my masters. It definitely wasn't easy and I was never busier but it is certainly possible. Between work, school and study I was putting in about 90+ hours a week total. When I finally finished I was so used to being busy I didn't know what to do with my self. So I continued to study since that's all I knew. I do not want to sound discouraging but if you ask me I loved every minute of it. I am dieing to go back to school and I am actually planning on doing it again now. If you truly love what you study you'll find a way to make it work. Good luck!
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2009
  18. Feb 1, 2010 #17
    It's possible ,it is very hard though ,i mean get ready to do nothing but school and work,also be prepared for some late night studying and/or working,I'm doing M.E and i have the same problem ,u do have a some other options though, there are some banks that give loans that cover the whole tuition which you can pay back after graduation depending on the country u live in, another option is lowering ur credit load ,but these are options that work for me ,i don't know ur specific situation man,look for a work/study plan that would fit you good luck
  19. Jun 4, 2011 #18
    Sorry to revive an old thread but I'm in the same predicament. I'm trying to finish up at the community college then move on to 4 year to do engineering or physics. Along with my basics I've taken some welding classes so I could try to get a full time job welding. My current part time job changing tires doesn't pay enough and if anyone's changed tires u know how bad it is. Working and school doesn't really bother me, fitting school around the job is what sucks. I find the classes for physics or ME are mostly during the day and each class has only one time offered. did anyone else have this problem?
  20. Jun 5, 2011 #19
    I juggled work and school this last semester.

    Luckily, my job was flexible and I picked up extra shifts every Wednesday and Sunday night. My schedule looked something like this:

    Monday: School 8-12, work 1-5
    Tuesday: Work 8-12:30, school 1-9:30
    Wednesday: School 8-12, work 1-5, extra shift 7 pm - 7 am.
    Thursday: Work 8-5
    Friday: School 8-12, work 1-5
    Saturday: Work 8-5
    Sunday: Work 8-3, extra shift 7 pm - 7 am.

    That was 18 hours school and roughly 60-65 hours a week working.

    I will not be doing it again. I only attempted this type of schedule due to my dire financial circumstances.

    I had absolutely no social life to speak of and I was exhausted all of the time. I did it, though! And now I'm out of the woods financially.
  21. Jun 11, 2011 #20
    Twenty years ago, I made a choice: I would go to work full time and then go to school part time. My social life was shot to hell because I couldn't do much else. My classmates were no different. But I was single, I had no other obligations, and what the hell, I survived.

    I suggest you look for universities that have a credible evening program. Going full time/full time sounds almost impossible.

    Also, although this economy really sucks, it seems to me that you're underemployed. I don't think you'll be able to find other places where a physics degree might be directly helpful, but don't overlook engineering opportunities. Who knows? You might even like working there.
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