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How many of you worked while in school?

  1. May 14, 2007 #1
    I am working every other day from 5pm - 1am. I have one class this summer which ends at 3:50pm everyday. I think I have enough time to study for that. But when fall comes around, I will be taking differential eq, physics II, and some other classes. Do you guys think I should quit when fall comes? I mean, did you work while working on your physics degree? This is my sophmore year coming up.

  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2007 #2


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    32 hours per week is probably pushing it. If you're taking a full class load, working 20 hours a week is doable - provided you accept the fact that some weeks you'll have no social life.

    People working full time can usually handle 2 classes - provided they accept that some of their weekends will be lost to school work (sometimes you have a very heavy workload for both classes at the same time - which also means you sometimes have almost nothing to do in either class, so you'll at least have a few weekends).

    Working full time and taking 3 classes means you have no weekends and occasionally won't be able to keep up with course work (professors never seem to coordinate with each other to give you a nice steady work load).

    Taking a full class load and working 30 hours per week might be doable overall if you accept the fact you'll have no social life, but you won't be able to keep up with class work when all or 3 of your classes happen to peak at the same time.
  4. May 14, 2007 #3


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    I began an MS program working full time (40 hrs/wk), evenings (4 pm - midnight) then (midnight to 0800), for the local city. I worked in the water production department as the operator of the water system. I was taking 15 hrs of courses, and also had a research/teaching assistantship (which was 20-40 hrs/wk depending). I was able to studying during the evenings because the operations work was mostly oversight of the system and periodic testing for water quality.

    I slept very little Monday-Friday, so I usually caught up with the sleep on Saturday and Sunday. Sleep deprivation was the biggest problem for me. :rolleyes:

    When I started a PhD program, I gave up the job with the city so I could sleep.

    But I was able to pay from my wife and myself to go to school, and pay off her loans from her undergrad program, and actually left school debt free and a little bit of money for a downpayment on a house.
  5. May 14, 2007 #4
    I work 20-30 hours per week with a 16 credit course load. I have no problems with free time, but my girlfriend may tell you otherwise ;)

    Working can be a great benefit. Most of my professors are very impressed when they hear how much I work and what I do for work.
  6. May 14, 2007 #5
    I worked 2 jobs (28 hrs per week) while taking a full course load (22 credits) when I was an undergrad. In the summer several times I would work 40-50 hrs per week while taking 1-2 classes.

    I still had time to go out every fri. and sat. and party. I'm not gonna to lie to you though, I pulled at least one all nighter every week. The key is time management and knowing how to study. Recopying notes, making note cards, reading the text book=all huge wastes of time for every class. I became an expert at being able to predict what would be on exams after sitting in a class for about 2-3 weeks and getting to feel out the professor. Most of the time I was able to predict correctly what 60-70% of the material would be on exams which is how I was able to study so efficiently.
  7. May 14, 2007 #6


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    Basically, the best way to budget your time is to assume a full time course load will be about the same amount of time requirement as a full time job. Even if you aren't in class 8 hours a day, you should spend the rest of that time studying (and of course you don't have to do it all in one block of time, and can spread it over into weekends as well). So, whatever paying job you take should be something you can do AS IF it's a second job. For most people, that's about 20 hours per week to still get enough sleep plus the occassional night out or even just the flexibility to handle emergencies that come up (an extra day spent at the mechanic shop getting your car repaired, or an unexpected visitor in town).

    Early in the semester, there's usually a bit more free time than later in the semester when assignments are all coming due, and you'll want more time off during exam weeks. If you can find a job that has more flexible hours, so that if you have times when you can work more hours and other times when you need an extra day off, that would be more ideal to fit in with courses.

    You can then take on a second job during your summers or offer to work longer hours during semester breaks to earn additional money.
  8. May 14, 2007 #7


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    That's not efficient studying or learning, that's only learning enough to pass a test. So, when trying to juggle that many things, the question is, do you want to actually learn the material, or just pass the tests?
  9. May 14, 2007 #8
    I wouldn't have been able to pass classes like organic chemistry then if I was just "studying to pass a test" since all the material is cumulative from chapter 1 1st semester until chapter 52 2nd semester. I dominated classes like orgo (and eventually became an organic chemist). Professors put the most important concepts on exams.

    Textbooks are only good anecdotes to your notes. If you missed a concept in class you can look it up in your textbook, but reading a textbook is a complete waste of time since it is full of details you will rarely ever use or see again.

    If you want to learn all you have to do is sit in on lecture and actually listen. If you want to pass a test then all you have to do is just go over the material that you think the prof. will put on the exam (which I became very good at doing). I got to learn and pass the test by doing both of those. Reading textbooks, redoing notes, making flash cards=waste of time.

    How did I pass organic chemistry? Paying attention in lecture and then opening up my textbook without reading it and doing all the problems at the end of the chapter. Whatever problems I got wrong I briefly looked them up in my notes or went over the concept in the chapter then did the problems again. I never ever sat there and read the entire chapter I was on.
    Last edited: May 14, 2007
  10. May 15, 2007 #9


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    I often did the opposite: went through the textbook, then solved problems, but hardly even attended lectures. Your way probably would have been better, since it would gear me specifically toward what the professor, and not the author of the test, wanted me to know, but frankly, I just hate lectures. Thankfully, most of my classes weren't lectures.

    Anyway, I worked sparingly at my university's writing center as a tutor while carrying a full load, but wasn't willing to work outside of that. Early in my college career, I tried to work weekends, and later I tried to do reading instruction at a local elementary school for 20 hours a week, but at the first job my attendance ended up being terribly spotty, and at the second, I got a bad lung infection that forced me to leave anyway.
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