Balancing commitments

GVL / Emily Frye
Grand Valley Campus Dining student manager Alyson Gray helps a customer on Thursday Feb. 23, 2017. Alyson is also an employee at Meijer in Standale.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Grand Valley Campus Dining student manager Alyson Gray helps a customer on Thursday Feb. 23, 2017. Alyson is also an employee at Meijer in Standale.

Tylee Bush

Grades, social life or work? One of the first and most important choices a student will have to make in college is where to dedicate their time and effort. Most students choose to focus more heavily on one or two of these, but there are some students who choose to tackle all three. These students must juggle maintaining their GPA with working a certain number of hours every week and still trying to see their friends on the weekends.

Among these resilient students is Krysta Zoedak. She is a junior studying advertising and public relations at Grand Valley State University. Zoedak has been employed as a writing consultant at the GVSU Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors for more than a year and a half. She generally works eight to 10 hours per week on top of taking a full load of credits, being a highly involved member of two student organizations and thriving in her many social circles.

“I really try to balance work, school and the two clubs I am a part of,” Zoedak said. “This is the fourth semester I have been working while taking 15 credits, and I currently have a 3.92 GPA. I dedicate myself to a lot but put in the time and effort to do the best I possibly can in all of my responsibilities.”

For Zoedak, working at the Writing Center is a necessity in more ways than one.

“I love working in the Writing Center, and I love helping students feel more confident about their writing,” Zoedak said. “I rely a lot on my paycheck each week to help pay rent, buy groceries and have a little spending money. I don’t just work at the Writing Center because I have to, but because I love my job and am always learning from others.”

Zoedak said despite her busy schedule and dedication to her grades, she prioritizes time for friends and family on the weekends, too.

“I still find time to go out and have fun on the weekends,” she said. “I usually spend Friday and Saturday nights with friends, or sometimes I go home to visit my family.”

Time management is key for Zoedak to manage her busy schedule.

“The best way that I manage my time is by taking advantage of days that I am highly motivated,” she said. “I’ll sometimes spend an entire day finishing my assignments and getting caught up. (If) I can, I try to get ahead on projects, essays or other assignments all at one time. This way, I can spend an entire weekend with friends or family without even opening my backpack.”

Zoedak recommends that students be motivated and proactive, consider employment and take their grades seriously but also have some fun.

“I would suggest to students in college to take their freshman year off to get adjusted to college life, getting involved in clubs and making friends,” she said. “After their first year, I would recommend working and providing a subtle income. (Working) while in college teaches you responsibility, how to multi-task and how to manage your time and priorities.”

Rachel Becklin was another one of these resilient students who studied, worked and played through her college career. Becklin is now a career advisor and internship specialist at the GVSU Career Center. She works to help students, faculty and employers with internship programming and initiatives.

Speaking from personal experience, Becklin shared the social value in being an employed student.

“Working 10 to 15 hours per week, specifically on campus, can help students get to know others, better prioritize their time and become more engaged in resources and activities on campus,” Becklin said. “Plus, it’s great having extra money.”

Becklin said after moving to college and feeling a little bored, she decided to get a job at a restaurant near her university.

“I quickly met other students who worked there and felt like I had a better handle on managing my time, both academically, socially and with work,” Becklin said.

After that position, Becklin obtained a job on campus during her senior year in the career and student employment office where she received an internship credit. Becklin said this position ultimately led her where she works today.

Becklin said working a certain amount of time during the week is actually beneficial for college students in terms of their academic and social lives.

“Working 10 to 15 hours per week has actually been shown to enhance a student’s academic and social experience in college,” she said. “In addition, it allows students to test out different career options and get a feel for the environment, industry and type of work they may or may not like doing.”

For students who are taking a full load of credits and also trying to sustain a social life, Becklin advises finding the right balance and work schedule that best suits them.

“Think about your schedule and what works best for you,” Becklin said. “For example, some students prefer taking all their classes Monday, Wednesday, Friday so they have Tuesday and Thursday to work, where others prefer to work a few hours every day or just on the weekends. Schedule study time just like you would work hours or class time.”

One resource available to help students with time management and organization is the Student Academic Support Center (SASC). SASC holds workshops and advisory appointments to aid students.

Students can also be in communication with professors regarding their work schedules, who may be accommodating and understanding of work commitments if students are equally committed to their course and any class requirements.

“When searching for opportunities, LakerJobs is a great place to start for part-time on- and off-campus positions,” Becklin said. “The Career Center can also help students get their resume together and identify potential opportunities.”