Is it possible to fund your studies by doing work on the side? Shirley gives some tips on how to pay for your own studies and stay sane while doing it.
Whether you work full-time in order to pay for your part-time studies, or work part-time in order to pay for your full-time studies, funding your studies is a huge responsibility. Being able to fund your studies through your parents’ money is not an option for everyone. So what do you do if you have already applied to NSFAS, considered taking a student loan, saved up everything you can and applied for countless bursaries and scholarships only to be unsuccessful? Unless you pay your own way, you’re not going to be able to follow your dreams.
Firstly- well done! You can actually do this.
What Are Your Options?
Working in order to pay for your studies is a huge financial responsibility. It requires you to assess the realistic possibilities. Will you be working part-time in order to supplement your living costs? Or are you looking for a full-time job in order to fund your part-time studies? Each option has advantages and disadvantages.
1. Working Part-Time
Part-time jobs are a great way to supplement your income while studying full-time and will assist you in paying for printing charges, society sign-ups as well as some living costs while studying. However, it is rare to find a high-paying part-time job so it can be difficult to work part-time in order to fully pay your tuition.
2. Advantages of Working Part-time While Studying Full Time
This is an obvious advantage of working part-time. The extra cash you can earn while working part-time allows you to cover the cost of living and can even provide you with a little bit to put towards tuition, fun or travel.
Learning to Budget
Working part-time and earning your own money teaches you to spend it wisely. Since you become responsible for the money you make and spend, your hard-earned cash can be difficult to part with. In short, students who earn their own money are more responsible with their spending habits.
Working part-time requires you to be more aware of your free time and time available for studies. This means that students with part-time jobs usually become more organised and better with time management.
Benefit to Your Future
Working part-time allows you to gain experience in a career you hope to go into after university. Or to simply gain valuable experience in the working world in general. This kind of work experience can help you stand out from the crowd when you begin looking for a full-time job after university. An added benefit is the opportunity to begin professional networking with others in your chosen field. By forming professional relationships, you increase your chances of finding employment after you graduate.
While there are many benefits to working part-time, there are also disadvantages. It can be difficult to manage your time effectively and dedicate enough time to your work, studies and social life. Many students find that while working part-time, they fall behind on school work or they are too exhausted at the end of a hectic waitressing shift to do their readings at night. It is important to make sure you are balancing your time and giving enough attention to all areas of your life.
How Can You Balance Part-time Work and School?
Plan, plan, plan
Plan ahead and make sure you know exactly when your shifts are at the restaurant, or how much time you will need to dedicate to tutoring, marking or data capturing. When you have organised your time, it becomes easier to adjust your schedule and know how early you need to get up, when to make time for studies and when to work.
Make sure you are consistent with your study times. By consistently studying for 5 hours a day, you are able to create a habit. This means you will be less likely to simply pick up another shift when you know you should be studying or working on an assignment.
Be realistic with yourself and with your employer. If your part-time job begins to feel like a full-time job, you may need to set better boundaries or assess your situation. Completing your studies should always be the goal, rather than the side-hustle. Be honest with your employer so that they are aware of your need for study time. Make sure they know when you have exams and practicals. It is also a good idea to be realistic about the amount of time you can dedicate to your work and your part-time job.
Where Can I Find Part-Time Work?
If working part-time sounds like a good way for you to make extra money while you are studying, you may be wondering where to start. Remember that with careful planning of where your money needs to go each month, you can ensure that you are putting funds exactly where they need to go. Create a budget to help you keep track and make sure you work out a payment plan with your institution. This is just so that they are aware of your situation.
- Rent-a-Student: This handy website allows you to search for jobs in your area. Rent-a-Student helps students find part-time, paid work during the holidays as well as term-time. Take a look at their listings and apply for anything from data capturing to babysitting. It’s aimed at students so it caters for students specifically.
- M4JAM: Money for Jam is another website/app aimed at students. The mobile app allows you to create a profile (sign up as a jobber) and then begin looking for jobs nearby. The jobs posted range from simple tasks you can complete in your area, like taking a photo of a shop, or completing a survey from your couch. Each job you successfully complete will earn you money that will go into your Wallet. Jobs pay different amounts but most average at around R15 – R30 per job. The app then allows you to cash out your money to spend elsewhere. Or you can spend your money in the app, which offers some great deals on things like airtime.
- Career Junction is a great place to look for jobs in your area, especially jobs which will help you gain experience in your field of study by searching for specific jobs or positions. It also allows you to create a profile and post your CV online, which makes applying for jobs as easy as clicking ‘send’.
- Your University: Remember to ask around at your university for jobs. Many universities offer positions to their students. Talk to your department and find out what jobs might be available to students. Tutoring, mentoring and admin work are common jobs offered to students by the institution.
- Family and Friends: Networking starts right at home! Ask your friends and family if they know of any work which might be available. Often, a family member may be able to help you find work at their place of work so don’t be afraid to ask and put the word out that you are looking for a part-time position.
Funding your studies by working part-time is certainly possible and requires a sincere dedication to your degree and to the end-goal so you do not lose motivation. It can be helpful to gain an income through multiple different ventures (such as tutoring, waitressing and babysitting) so that you can diversify your income and experience.
“every day is a bank account, and time is our currency. No one is rich, no one is poor, we’ve got 24 hours each” – Christopher Rice.
Make sure you use your 24 hours wisely!