Working while in school


Hi all,

I'm in need of need of some advice. I'm 18 and completing my nursing prereqs at a 4-year university in one year, and I'm also in the honors program, so I have additional requirements I must meet for that. My issue is, being 18, I still live with my parents, and lately they've been pressuring me to get a job to help out. Of course I would love to be able to help out, but I'm at a loss here. See, when I first started my prereqs I WAS working and had a temporary position. I was working about 15-20 hours a week and it was definitely difficult. I started falling behind in my classes and it just wasn't really working out. I finished out my time as a temp and finished part way into the term. Since then I've been able to get caught up in all my courses and I haven't been as stressed out. But on the other hand, I still feel obligated to work to help out my parents since they are paying my car insurance ($80/mo) and my cell phone ($30/mo). I do some work for our neighbor and she pays me $60 per month, so I'm able to get my own gas and clothes, etc., but I still feel like I owe my parents for what they are paying for me.

I just don't know what to do. They keep pressuring me and hinting around that I need to get a job, but I don't feel that it's such a great idea at this point in my educational career. I've tried explaining to them that my coursework is extremely rigorous and I also have to start practicing for the TEAS on top of it all, and I've explained how my previous job was affecting my education, but they don't seem to understand that for nursing prereqs, "just passing" isn't enough like it is in high school (or even some other college majors). I feel like they think I'm just making up excuses. On top of my nurising prereqs, my honors program also has GPA requirement that must be met, and I can't drop the honors program because I get priority registration which is extremely important for nursing at my school, as prereq classes fill up quick and many are only offered once or twice a year (we're on quarters, not semesters). I know it's stupid to sacrifice grades, especially during prereqs in a California BSN program (and I know it will only get harder once I'm actually in the nursing program), but at the same time I want to be responsible and pay my own expenses because my parents have their own financial issues to worry about. I'm just so torn between what to do, so I'm just wondering what everyone's thoughts and opinions are. What would you do in my postion? Also, if you think I should get a job, how many hours a week do you think is reasonable while going through school, and do you have any tips on how to juggle school and work (seeing as it didn't go well for me the first time)? Or if you think it's more wise to focus mainly on school, how can I make my parents understand my situation a bit better?

I really appreciate anyone who read this dreadfully long post (sorry it isn't the most coherent thing I've written...), and thanks to anyone who is able to provide any advice!

Mike DBD

104 Posts

I would say max anyone should work while in college (going full time) is a 15-25 hr part time job. This is doing pre reqs or in nursing school. When I was doing my pre reqs I had the same problem as you. Thankfully my parents understood I was stressing and struggling to keep up and they told me it was alright to quit my Job. I do have a very hard time learning even all throughout high school I was in co teach etc. Anyhow, my pre req Gpa was a 3.77 and 69 teas, I got into the nursing program and will start soon. Over all gpa is 3.75/ with 37 credits. When in nursing school a lot of people don't work. The ones who do work are the ones who are older and have bills to pay usually. I'm blessed to have very supportive parents. I don't really know how else to help you but to tell you you're not alone, maybe show your parents My comment so they can understand it`s not easy.


292 Posts

An option that may be available to you if your school offers it (which most do) is a work-study program. Basically, the program is part of your financial aid and the school has available positions for students to fill that require minimal actual work. Such places would be to work in the bookstore, as a secretary (just answer calls and do small, simple projects), in the coffee house, or the library. Most of the time, you would work after school hours from somewhere around 4-10pm where the human traffic is lower at the school. This provides mostly quiet time where you are getting paid like any job but you are allowed to study/do what you wish (as appropriate) where you work. Like I said, you would have small tasks to do (most do not take long - answering phone calls, cashier in bookstore/coffee house, check out books) because it is a "job" but most school realize students who do work-study do it for the extra cash but still need time to study so you are not expected to be constantly working like normal jobs.

If this sounds appealing, you would need to talk to your financial aid advisor to get you signed up and sometimes you get to pick where you want to do your work-study (library, secretary, etc.) so you could maybe talk to students who already are in the work-study program and get the jist of just how little they can do ;) :yes:. Just a suggestion because the place where I did mine was one of the better places because of the lesser amount of people bothering me when I worked and studied! Ha. I think the not so desirable places at my school were the bookstore and coffee house just because more people needed/wanted something from those places then when I was a secretary that didn't sell anything/could work at night when there were only maximum 15 people in the building.


59 Posts

I worked full time in a bar while I was in nursing school because it was the only way I could have afforded to do it. Looking back I don't know how I managed to do it. Let's just say sleeping didn't exist and studying was always a must. I had a 3.60 average


9 Posts

I'm in the first year of my program and work 40-60 hours a week. It's not easy by any stretch of the imagination but with 2 kids and a stay at home wife I have to do what I have to do. I'll be extremely happy when this is all over so I can relax a bit but until then I keep plugging along. My grades haven't suffered much as I still have a 4.0 but I'm sure that it helps that I'm an AEMT.

rubato, ASN, RN

1,111 Posts

Specializes in Oncology/hematology.

While in nursing school, I worked as a CNA in a hospital on weekends. So, that was 14-16 hours per week. I was also in the honors program and was taking extra classes for that so I averaged about 18 credit hours per semester and 9 or 10 for summer semesters. Oh, and I'm a wife and mom. Did I do it? Yes. Was it hard as he**? Yes! But, it was a temporary situation, and I knew I would be more hirable by working.

pmabraham, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 2,560 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Palliative Care. Has 3 years experience.

Good day, ThatOneDude822

We just had our RN program orientation yesterday morning. Several professors as well as current students in the RN program stressed how difficult it is to work full time AND keep the grades necessary to stay in the program. We were told that we need to allow for a MINIMUM of 33 hours outside of class time on studying and practicing skills. Class time itself is 15 hours per week NOT including travel time. So you have 48 hours per week of class and study time not including travel time. Consider the need to sleep especially long enough for REM sleep (proven to consolidate and help with memory), eat, family time, etc. and only 168 hours in a week... not sure how one can work full time and have sufficient grades to stay in the program.

Thank you.

Has 1 years experience.

You have to get your C.N.A. to be in the nursing program, why don't you work evenings or nights as a C.N.A.? I work full time (40+ hours per week) and I'm a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (you have to have over a 3.4 to be a member). YOU CAN DO IT TOO! You're going to be stressed and feel like you're on overdrive every day, but honestly, it's just part of being a responsible adult. You have to learn how to handle these things. When you're finished with your degree, you're going to look back and say, "WOW! I worked my butt off, but I DID IT!" :)


5 Posts

Workin and going to school is challenging, but it can be done. I have been completing my prereqs at a community college the past couple years while always working 50+ hours a week, its hard and I'm not gonna lie my GPA could be a little better but you gotta do what you gotta do. Just need to prioritize your time- when you aren't at work you study, and you sleep when your body needs it, thats what has made me keep going. I go to school with a lot of single mothers who are in the same boat as me and on top of that have kids to care for, so anything is possible, just prioritize.


281 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care; Recovery. Has 2 years experience.

I worked as a front desk clerk at days inn hotel while in nursing school on night shift. This allowed me to study as much as I wanted while working at the same time. I think it's doable if you find the right job. I worked both a full time job and a part time job as a nurse while completing my RN to BSN and that was also doable. One may have to sacrifice a little sleep and become an early riser though.

Specializes in LTC.

I work at Starbucks. They are very student friendly. I am also a CNA, but every facility in my area wanted some NOC's and I just can't. It's just too much for me to do NOC's. I barely manage my 24 hours a week.

I have some pretty strong feelings on this subject, since I worked as a teaching assistant for several semesters in anatomy, physiology, and microbiology classes, and I can't tell you how many times I watched people struggle and fail to work full time and maintain a strong GPA. Often people who I could tell were capable of A's were settling for B's because they just didn't have the time to study like they should have. And as you seem to understand (not everyone does!) getting straight B's in nursing prerequisites is about as good as getting F's; there are so many qualified applicants with straight A's applying for programs that you'll get lost in the shuffle. Not to mention that you'll have a hell of a time going back for a masters or doctorate if you want to be an NP or CRNA down the road.

I strongly advise you to listen to your gut and stop working so many hours if it's getting in the way of your schooling. Take out loans if you need to. It is extremely short-sighted of your parents to want you to work a minimum wagey (I'm guessing here, since you're 18) job and jeopardize your education, especially when you're working towards a degree with good pay and excellent job security.

Please ignore people who claim that because they worked 60+ hours with three kids and made a 4.0 that you can and should do it too. Maybe they're geniuses. Maybe they have a freakishly low need for sleep. Maybe they're full of &*@$. What matters is, that's not you. Trust your own gut.