There are only 40 hours in the week

5 10 2010

For anyone who has gone to school while working full time, this post will be old news to you. For those who have not yet and are considering it, then listen up.

I recently attempted to work full time as a web developer while going to grad school full time for my master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction. It ended badly. I was forced to drop of my classes so that I can actually do my job. By trying to do both work and school at the same time and full-time, I attempted too much at once. Clearly, it is important to limit what you attempt in one semester.

Many students, especially undergrads, work a part-time job. I did when I was an undergrad. I have a new theory about how to decide how much work and school you can handle. I think that it is pretty simple. Take the maximum number of hours you would be willing to work at a full-time job and take this as the maximum number of combined hours you would spend on work, school, and other things at the same time.

For example, I’m willing to work 40 hours per week at a full-time job, which is exactly what I am doing right now. Working 40 hours per week really takes all of my energy, so that is the safe maximum for me to attempt. When I try to mix work and school in the future, I will take into account my credit hours and the number of weekly hours required by my job. If I am taking 15 credit hours, then I shouldn’t try to work more than 25 hours per week. I need to work 30 hours per week, then I should not sign up for any more than 10 credit hours.

Learn from my failure. For most people, it is simply impossible to do both work and school full-time. Some people can handle it. I cannot.

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