10 Helpful Tips for Working Full Time and Going to School


Whether it’s going to a trade school or a four-year university, earning an education is no small feat. When you add keeping up with a full-time job, it might seem nearly impossible.

Despite the challenges that come with going to school and working full-time, it’s the reality for many students today. This is especially the case among adult students who are looking to go back to school but need an income to help pay for life expenses and to support their families.

Here at Universal Technical Institute (UTI), many of our students balance working part-time or full-time jobs while attending school.1 Keep reading to learn 10 helpful tips for staying on top of it all, including advice from a few of our grads!

How to Work and Go to School Full Time

Any working student will tell you that balancing a job and school presents a unique set of challenges. However, doing so can be very beneficial in the long run. Here are a few benefits of keeping your full-time job while earning your education:

  • Earn a steady income: School is an investment of both your time and money. Student loan debt is a concern for many students, and working along the way can help offset school and living expenses.
  • Gain professional skills: Working is a great way to gain professional skills, no matter the industry where you work. Many employers today look for education, but they also value soft skills, which you can gain in the workplace.
  • Apply your knowledge to a real-world setting: Going to school while working provides an opportunity to apply your new knowledge to real-life settings. For example, working at a tire shop as you complete your automotive training can give you a feel for what it’s like working in the field while giving you a chance to network and make connections.
  • Potential employee benefits: Some employers offer tuition reimbursement or assistance to their full-time employees if the education they’re earning can enhance their career.

Statistics for Working Full Time and Going to School Full Time

Today, there are more nontraditional students going to school than ever before. A 2015 study from Georgetown University found that during the preceding 25 years:

  • More than 70% of college students work while enrolled
  • 25% of students are employed full time and enrolled in school full time
  • About 19% of working students have children

How to Balance School and Work: 10 Tips for Success

So how exactly do you balance school, work and all of life’s other responsibilities? Here are 10 helpful tips to keep in mind.

1. Practice Good Time Management

When you’re a full-time student and employee, time is precious. To make the most of every minute, it’s important to be proactive and practice good time management.

For example, you might find it helpful to set some time aside before the start of each week to map out your schedule, taking into account when you work, when you’re in class, and when you need to be studying or working on assignments. Consider writing this in a planner or adding the schedule to the calendar in your phone for reference.

2. Cater to Your Learning Habits

One of the best things you can do as a student is cater your schedule to your learning habits. For example, if you’re a morning person, it might make the most sense to schedule time to study earlier in the day and fill your afternoon with other activities.

It’s also important to know your learning style. If you’re a hands-on learner, for example, consider creating flashcards or joining a study group where you can interact with others.

Hear from David Hopf on why he chose UTI as a hands-on learner:

3. Have a Dedicated Study Space

When you sit down to do schoolwork, it’s important to have a space where you can focus. Whether it be at your desk, a coffee shop or the library, aim to create an environment that helps to foster learning.

Consistently working in a designated space can help create a routine and boost productivity. Remember that this space doesn’t have to be boring. It should be pleasant! Whether it’s making your favorite cup of coffee or turning on background music, it’s all about finding what works best for you.

4. Build a Relationship With Your Instructors

As a working student, it’s important to regularly communicate with your instructors. They often will be more than willing to help if you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything on your plate.

Building relationships with your instructors will not only benefit you while in school — your instructors can also be great connections to have as you pursue your career. They can share valuable tips and insight into what it takes to succeed in the field, and they may even be a professional reference for you as you apply for jobs.

Hear from graduate Alyssa Culver on her experience with UTI instructors:

5. Limit Distractions to Stay Focused

From watching Netflix to checking social media, our world is full of distractions — and these things can get in the way of achieving goals. Whether you’re at work, in class or trying to study, it’s important to limit distractions so you can stay focused.

When you need to be in the zone, consider putting your phone and computer on do-not-disturb mode. Checking your notifications or browsing social media isn’t bad, but there’s a time and place to do so. In fact, this can be a great way to reward yourself after completing a task!

6. Have an Accountability Partner

Having the support of those around you will be crucial to your success as a working student. Consider having an accountability partner, such as a classmate, family member or friend. This person can help you keep your commitments and cheer you on as you work toward your goals.

Hear from UTI grad Spencer Rowett on how his friend and fellow UTI student Kyle Sabers supported him on his journey to becoming a welder:

7. Acknowledge Small Victories

While it’s good to have your eyes set on your end goals, such as graduating or landing your dream job, it’s important to celebrate your achievements along the way. For example, this may be turning in an assignment on time or getting an “A” in a challenging class.

Acknowledging your small victories will fuel your success and help you feel accomplished. It will give you the stamina to keep going, even when times are hard.

8. Remember Your ‘Why’

When you’re in the middle of a tough semester at school or a busy work week, it’s easy to start questioning why you’re doing all of this. However, it’s in these moments that you should take a minute to remind yourself why you started.

Are you pursuing an education to benefit your career in the long run? Are you working to support your family or achieve a financial goal? Remember that balancing both work and school won’t last forever. It’s a time that requires sacrifice, but it will be rewarding in the end!

UTI grad Dan Wehry completed his automotive training to be able to spend more time with his family. Check out his story:

9. Reach Out for Help When You Need It

As a student, it’s important to make the most of the resources available to you, whether it be tutoring, talking to your instructor after class or utilizing Career Services if your school offers them. All of these things can be incredible tools that will help you make the most of your education and set yourself up for long-term career success.

Michael Steinkrauss made good use of UTI’s Career Services while in school. Watch his story:

10. Don’t Forget Self-Care

As busy as your schedule may be, always make it a priority to take care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, fueling your body with good nutrition and staying hydrated.

Also, be sure to schedule time to do things you enjoy. This might be as simple as going for a jog, calling a friend or taking a half-hour to read your favorite book. Doing these things will help you recharge and avoid burnout, which will in turn benefit your work and studies.

Get Trained for a Career in Less Than a Year

Ready to get on track toward a career doing what you love? UTI offers a variety of exciting programs, many of which can be completed in less than a year:7

To learn more, visit our programs page and request information to get in touch with an Admissions Representative today.

With classes starting every 3-6 weeks, no need to wait to start your career.
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Or Call Now 800.834.7308

1 ) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2 ) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
7 ) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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