According to a 2011 U.S. Department of Education study, 71.4 percent of four-year college students work while earning their degrees. Learning to balance the expectations of employers and college classes is difficult for many students. If you succeed, you gain skills in goal setting, prioritization and time management. Failure to balance work and college usually makes for limited success in both areas.

Class Struggles

A common symptom of poor job and class balance is failure on homework, tests, papers and projects. Ultimately, if you don't get things in balance, you fail classes. If you work 30 to 40 hours per week and don't manage your remaining time and energy well, you won't complete projects or give them your full effort. Additionally, people who work 15 to 20 hours or more can struggle simply by allocating too much nonwork time to social activities and parties. This leaves inadequate time and energy to do well on school work.


Stress is a result of imbalance in a couple ways. First, you have to worry about trying to coordinate these dual responsibilities. Then, when you struggle with poor performance and unmet demands from employers and instructors, you must cope with pressure coming from multiple directions. Stress can affect your immune system, making you more prone to illness and disease further inhibiting your ability to balance your life. Dr. Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University indicated in an April 2012 article by "The Healthy Mind Network" that his research team found that inflammation brought on by stress contributes to many illnesses and diseases, including the common cold.

Relationship Problems

Imbalance at work and school can lead to relationship problems. Your personal relationships with friends and family can suffer because you are either stressed or don't have time to spend with them. Your professional relationships and rapport with managers suffer because your coworkers and supervisors are unhappy with your work. Your classroom relationships with instructors and other students struggle because they notice your lack of attendance or effort.


Virtually inherent when you aren't managing school and work are absences from one or both. You may miss classes to appease your manager by showing up for work when scheduled. By going to classes, you may upset your manager by being unavailable during important work hours. Even when you do show up for class, you may be too tired to focus or you may be unprepared to participate in discussions.