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Achieving a Work-Study Balance

NCH Student Blog | January 21, 2020

I have been studying in London for almost 6 years now (undergraduate as well as postgrad). I have lived in London and commuted so I hopefully have a decent grasp of the realities of either situation. However, I shall focus on my current studies which are in Philosophy at a Masters level.

I intend to offer several tips which will hopefully help any student studying in London but will be focused on those who need to work as well as study:

1) Headphones are a necessity to block out noise in London.

2) Get a planner and schedule reading time in your timetable so you don’t accidentally leave it too late.

3) Self-imposed deadlines can be a handy way of making sure you get things done in time – e.g. if an essay is due on a Friday but you work Thursdays, write it down as though it’s due Wednesday so you can have it finished before your workday and even have time to check it over once more before the actual deadline on Friday.

4) If commuting, find something to do on the journey so that it doesn’t feel like you’re losing time e.g. Audiobook, phone games or, if you find yourself able to concentrate amidst the chaos of commuters, some people with long commuting times (myself for example) read an academic paper or two on the journey.

5) Try to find zero-hour contract work (and/or work offered by your university) as this allows you to be far more flexible with your hours. If this is not possible then be sure to get your full-term timetable in advance and plan exactly when you are at university and when at work, so nothing catches you off guard.

6) If your course is multiple years, consider scheduling most of your paid work during the long summer holidays. This way you can hopefully earn enough to not have to schedule any work in the first month of the new academic year. I find this helps me settle back into university much faster/easier.

7) Sacrifice work over sacrificing studies. If you are working alongside studying your work should be there to support your studies and therefore is less important than your studies. There are always more jobs, university deadlines (although they can be deferred under special circumstances) are far more important. Remember you are paying a lot for your studies.

8) Lastly, remember you have come to university to study what you love, what you are passionate about. I always try to look at the ‘work’ I must do for my Masters course as somewhat recreational. Naturally, I cannot say that I enjoyed reading every paper/book I have had to read but if you attempt to approach your studies as an interesting challenge rather than a series of arduous tasks than your “university experience” (dear lord I hate that phrase) will be far more enjoyable and manageable.

These are a few of the pieces of advice that I have accumulated over the years from various well-meaning people, I hope they can help you as they have myself!