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How to be a Successful Working Student in the Philippines by Pao Loanzon

When it comes to life after high school, Filipinos often struggle between two options: find work or go to college? While some will choose to go to college, many students, either by choice or by force, will prefer to start earning through employment or entrepreneurship. However, there is a third option where one can do both: become a working student.

Being a working student in the Philippines can be challenging. So, here’s a simple guide that may help in case you decide to take this path.

Decide what kind of working student you are.

Do you work full-time and study part-time or are you a full-time student that supports his or herself with a part-time job? Each kind of working student has different priorities and different advantages and disadvantages. Deciding on what kind of working student you are will help you set those priorities.

Have a firm understanding of the demands of your job and classes.

Different jobs have different expectations and policies. Some may not be ideal as part-time work or are unable to accommodate part-time students. Meanwhile, some classes may have requirements and projects that may be too difficult to fulfill if you have a full-time job.

Here are some tips

● Be honest about the time and energy you have to get your requirements done.

● Mind work policies on shifts and shifting schedules. Shifting schedules might make attending classes difficult.

● Talk to HR and Team Managers about policies and culture regarding overtime and keep that in mind when making scheduling decisions.

● Ask around about course requirements early! Some classes require group projects or class participation for a good grade which may be difficult to accomplish while working.

Choose the right school and program.

Consider a school and program that is sympathetic to your needs as a working student. Find schools that offer flexible learning opportunities like:

● Night classes

● Credited hours on the job, or

● Online and distance learning.

The Covid Pandemic encouraged a lot of schools to provide distance education programs. These may remain available. Our Lady of Fatima University, Mapua University, National Teachers College, Jose Rizal University, LPU, and Far Eastern University have all transitioned, in part, to online and distance education.

Some schools may even allow exceptions to uniforms or may not require a specific dress code at all. Check if these policies apply to your degree program. Choosing the right school and program will benefit your learning tremendously.

Get adjusted.

Schoolwork and work-work are not easy things to do on their own. Putting them together can overwhelm almost anyone. If you’re not used to working and studying at the same time, take your time getting used to your new responsibilities and be realistic with what you can handle.

You may want to accept less hours at work or less classes in a term before accommodating more responsibilities. Take your time and test the waters. There is also nothing wrong with managing your study load to the bare minimum if it allows you to be successful.

Simplify your logistics.

Make life easier for yourself and keep your appointments local. Traffic and transportation woes are an undeniable part of our everyday life. The truth is that most jobs or classes will not care that you got stuck in traffic or you were unable to get a ride. If possible, find employment opportunities close to your school and/or home or vice versa. Does your company or school have telecommuting or online classes? If you do work from home, remember to maintain the trust of both your bosses and professors.

Invest in the right Tools and mind your expenses

Your budget might be under constraint with living expenses and school fees hovering above you. But the digital age has new requirements and lacking important tools might put you at an even greater disadvantage. Invest in the right tools that will make your life as a working student easier. Do you need the latest phone on the market or do only need a simple but reliable one? Is a brand new, gaming laptop really what you need or is a simple secondhand laptop with reasonably good specifications enough to keep you productive and focused at the same time? Be smart with your money. Don’t scrimp and buy substandard equipment. Beware of “Maling pagtitipid”. Buy smart – buy quality and buy on sale or secondhand.

Manage your money (and go Digital)

There are so many innovations in tech! Many digital banks and wallets have made opening and managing money accounts cheaper and easier. Putting money away and allocating them to pay your bills with your phone saves you time, effort, and mental strain of holding on to cash and commuting to banks, payment centers, or even the school. Meanwhile, companies like Bukas, can make paying for your tuition fees easier to manage with affordable 12-month payment plans. Use this plan to avoid the shock of having to pay lump sums to start up or finish up payments for the term or semester.

Use digital payments to avoid unnecessary late fees. These late payment fees and penalties may look small at first but can really add up. Take advantage of what technology has given us, today!

Don’t overburden your budget
As a working student, buying things is easier since you have your own money. However, a big source of stress can come from trying to balance an overburdened budget. This is where you devote a lot of energy trying to figure out how to financially survive on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. Be honest with yourself and understand which classes (and the fees that come with them) you can afford. Understand which personal expenses and purchases are necessary or unnecessary. Plan early and save yourself from a headache!

Don’t forget to rest and recover.

After everything is said and done, don’t forget to give yourself a break. The life of a working student is a hectic one – with getting through the day in the job or getting the course work for school done, many of us will forget to rest. While many can power through and finish strong without any rest, the mental health and physical health effects of this kind of lifestyle can cause more harm to our lives than it is worth. Remember to get enough sleep, eat the right food, and take a full day in a week to clear your mind and recover your body. Tomorrow is a brand new day.

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About the Author

Pao Loanzon graduated from Ateneo de Manila Univeresity with an AB in Development Studies in 2012 and got through school with the help of loans and odd jobs. He previously worked in UnionBank as a Credit Risk Officer and briefly as a Process Automation Engineer before coming aboard with Bukas. Pao also worked in the Department of Education's Office of the Secretary as a Technical Assistant.