Candace: 5 ways to smash summer semester as a working student

Blogger Candace photoCandace is a working, studying, mother (and wife!). She loves engaging those around her with a sense of fun and wit with through her writing. Candace is currently completing her Bachelor of Business with a focus in marketing. When she isn’t studying or writing Candace is busy at work or enjoying quality time with her family in her version of paradise: Southeast Queensland.


The summer festive season is a busy one. Parties, backyard barbies, beach trips. If you are wondering where on earth you could possibly fit in course readings, lectures and assignments in between the mouthfuls of your nanna’s fruitcake and working 9-5, then listen up! I can tell you there is time, buckets of it. You just need to know where to look!

1. Public holidays. 
The summer holidays bring an avalanche of public holidays for many. Last year, there were 4 between Christmas day and New Year’s Day! And, of course, in January there is Australia Day too! Let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing un-Australian about bettering oneself and study is how I am choosing to better myself. Through careful planning I was able to keep my laptop closed on Christmas day, but the other three public holiday days gave me a bit of time to catch up and get ahead with my studies, which I may not have been able to do otherwise. My theory is if you chip away a little each day, the amount of study you have to do won’t snowball into craziness.

2. Work and roads are quieter.
During the summer semester my workplace slows down. Lots of people are on leave and there isn’t as much urgent work to do. I know I am supposed to take a lunch break every day, but I’ll be the first to admit that this doesn’t always occur. It is different at this time of year, however, when work is quieter. Why not take the books and turn your
lunch break into a study break? Hand-held foods like a sandwich are great when reading a textbook! And of course with the roads being quieter it takes me less time to get to work, meaning I can take a little more time in the morning to study. That extra 20 minutes in the morning can be the difference between not quite getting an idea and that light bulb moment where it finally makes sense!

3. Find inspiration in a change of scenery. 
If your family takes a holiday around this time of year, you can still go, just be prepared to take your books. We headed to Tasmania for a week in November and had an absolute ball! I found after spending a day out sightseeing we would come back to our apartment and unwind. At this time, between sunset and dinner, I would find myself a quiet spot near the water, but instead of burying my nose in the sand, I buried it in the books!

4. Campus is quieter. 
As an online student living a stone’s throw away from campus, I am lucky to have the best of both worlds: campus resources at my fingertips, while allowing me to study in hours outside of my working hours. The thing I use the most on-campus is the 24 hour computer lab. It is my second home during semester. I love picking the corner computer with the extra desk space but it is hard to come across during Semesters 1 and 2. Summer semester is a different story though. While campus is quiet I often find myself with the computer lab entirely to myself! It feels strange to unplug your headphones when listening to a lecture, but with no-one else around, what's stopping you?

5. Play the student card. 
Friends and family want the best for you and can be very understanding, so let them support you! Let them bring you a ham sandwich while you’re tucked away in a quiet room. Let them look after you and take a year off Pavlova duty at Christmas time. Let them take the kids for the morning. Make the most of your fabulous support network, I couldn’t get by without mine. One proviso though: make sure you let them know how much you appreciate them and give thanks. Always give thanks.

Candace studying with her son (photo)

The advice I guarantee you will hear time and time again when discussing how to juggle study and work (and not just during summer semester!) are: plan ahead, find a balance and have strong time management skills. Start your assignments early, get it done, and get to the party. Remind yourself that sacrifices you make now aren’t forever; these are just short-term sacrifices for a long-term gain. Be organised, look for those moments when you can fit in an extra study session and make the most them. I assure you, the time is there, you just have to be prepared to find it.

Follow this advice and you’ll be able to get ahead of your peers with an effective summer semester as well as have your Christmas cake and eat it too!


Related:

Roxy: Semester 3: the good, the bad and how to make it through!

The ultimate guide to balancing study with your career

Veronica: The power of work-life-study integration