“My boss, who is a graduate student, wants to know how much time we can spend in a single day, or the maximum number of hours, I can devote to my job,” says Dr. Sarah Gervais.
“And I’m not sure how much of this is based on my individual work hours and how much is based upon my career.”
For many people, however, it’s a question of whether or not they can make it work.
Gervans, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Education, explains that for many students, the answer depends on how much stress is expected to be experienced during the workday.
“The stress of an office job, for example, is typically far more than a college graduate could handle in a week,” she explains.
“What that means is that a lot of graduate students are going to have a hard time juggling all the things they might be dealing with that might impact their work-life balance.”
As a result, she says, they can end up wasting a lot more time than they could in a classroom setting.
She’s also found that students who are trying to juggle a variety of activities and schedules can have a harder time adjusting.
“We’re in a weird time where our expectations of what a day in the office should be, and what the work needs to look like, is changing,” she says.
“So you need to think about what your work-day looks like for those of us who don’t have a lot to do.”
Dr. Gevans, who’s also the founder of the online course planner oSU, suggests a strategy for figuring out how much work your student’s schedule can handle, so that you can adjust accordingly.
She also suggests that it’s best to try to find a balance between your personal schedule and your workplace schedule.
“I recommend a flexible work-time schedule with a lot less work-related stuff, but it’s important to balance those schedules, too,” she notes.
She encourages her students to find their own schedule, but also to try different things that may be easier or more manageable for them.
“If you’re planning on doing some research and trying to come up with a work-study program, you might find that it takes a little more planning to figure out what that schedule is,” she adds.
If you’re looking to find the right balance between work and personal time, you can also get help from a planner like oSu.
“There are a lot out there for people to use,” Gervas says.
She adds that oSu has also been helping students find their personal work schedule since 2015.
In 2017, she created oSU Work Planner, a website where you can search through and compare multiple workplace scheduling programs and find one that best fits your personal work-hour needs.
You can also look up specific options for your workplace to get a better sense of what your options might look like.
For example, if you’re a student at a school in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to work from home, you may want to try a flexible online schedule or a personal schedule that includes work-from-home time, such as a plan like Work from Home Week.
“You can find a program that’s geared towards your personal needs and not your workplace needs, which is helpful,” Gevas says, adding that students should be aware that they might need to find ways to balance their work and their personal schedules.
Dr. John Boudreau, professor of clinical pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital and an osu advisor, agrees that student schedules can be tricky to figure things out.
“For students who have multiple jobs and do not know how many hours they can spend on a given day, scheduling can be challenging,” he says.
One of the biggest challenges, he says, is knowing when to stop working and when to start working.
“Even if you can find an online schedule that fits your needs, there is still the question of how to manage the time you’re spending on the job and how to make sure it’s working well for you.”
Boudauses research shows that if students are making decisions based on the way they’re spending their time, their work performance, and their expectations, they may end up with higher absenteeism and worse academic performance.
But if students take the time to set a reasonable schedule, he adds, it can actually work out well for both students and the institution.
“With a flexible schedule, you don’t need to have one fixed schedule,” he explains.
Bouds is also concerned about the idea that scheduling can take a backseat to academic performance, which could lead to students taking less time off to pursue other majors or to get married or have kids.
He also worries that students may miss out on a great education experience by focusing too much on their academic work.
“When you’re doing more