Financial Concerns

#1

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is struggling to balance work with study and in particular stay out of debt as far as possible! I had originally hoped to complete work experience will be relevant to my actual studies but increasingly I feel that I’m needing to work simply to earn money to assist with all the fees etc. I know there is no real answer to any of this but I’m just wondering how other people are managing and whether anyone has any tips that they can share with me about how they are building a strong CV but also managing to earn money and keep on top of the studies.
Any thoughts appreciated!

#2

Hi Nia
I think you are looking for utopia! To balance work and studies and to restrict the amount of debt that you are incurring is like chasing clouds.
The object of trying to balance the books so to speak is admirable but with the ever increasing pressure on students it is very much a question of taking any work experience that is available. The money is needed to keep the finances under control, and I think that employers are now aware that the demands of finances supercede the matching of the various elements. This time next year with the fees that will have kicked in by then the need to work will be even greater so today is only a taster for tomorrow.
To be honest in my view there are no secrets. It is survival and take what you can.

#3

My personal approach when it came to balancing all of my time was to try and do paid work for a few hours a week during term time and then take work experience placements whenever I could during the holidays. This wasn’t necessarily a specific decision but was more about the fact that work experience placements tended to be for a week or two so were in holiday times.
I agree I don’t think you’re ever going to get the perfect balance but I guess it’s a matter of remembering what is important to you and I certainly wouldn’t turn down work experience even if it’s unpaid particularly if it is going to enhance your CV. I did however take the approach of trying to make sure that even my ‘pocket money’ jobs had some value ot my CV and in reality you’d be hard pressed to find a job that doesn’t. For example if you work behind a bar that shows interpersonal skills and an ability to work hard, office work shows your ability to work in a team and to use the computer etc etc. I think it’s more a matter of bigging up and seeing the positive in what you have done rather than shaping your entire life around the way you want your CV to look.
S

#4

I like that approach you have taken Stella and I think you raise a very salient point when you talk about the relevance of taking work even if it is unpaid. Yes, this will impact of a students finances, but experience is priceless.
A few hours work during semesters is not a bad thing in so far as it is an enforced break from studies and this is vital. If all you do is study, then you will lose your ability to retain the sharpness that is essential.
How you plan the longer summer break I think is most important. As a student you will need a holiday, even if it is with family. Just switching off totally will refresh you.
The downside is that for almost all students finance weighs heavy. Where is the balance? It will be individual for each student and will have some relevance to family support as well. The way in which families can now support students is limited, and if we look at the news today with the prediction of growing poverty in families then I can only say I am glad I am not a student today.
It would be good to hear from a student on this issue.

#5

Yes I would also agree with this. Most of the structured work experience programmes particularly in larger organisations are scheduled to take place in the long summer break and therefore whilst it is great if you can do part-time work that is linked to a degree I think the real issue comes in how you use these summer breaks and whether or not you show yourself to be a rounded person concerned has anything a rounded person.
I find that the students who work part time are often the ones that seem to be more focussed on their work, not sure how linked all of that is but I just think you have to do what works for you and employers see value in this ability to juggle the various aspects of life.
S

#6

As someone who sees the finances from a different side of the fence maybe I can comment.
We in the universities are extremely concerned about student finances and the bursars and the student union officers do all they can to assist students who are in financial difficulty. The real concerns have universities are the students need to commit to excessive employment in order to be able to survive the constraints if university life, and the amount of depression caused by financial problems.
Students should not overextend themselves where work is concerned and nor should they place themselves under undue financial pressure. The student unions do have access to debt counsellors and to there own funds that in certain circumstances that can be made available to bail out students.
The bursar of a university will also, even today, have certain funds that can help out a student, but a good case will need to be made.
We as tutors do not want students buried in debt and will offer advice and support as necessary.

#7

Thank you Egghead for your perspective and it’s good to know that universities are also concerned about the financial stress that we as students are under and good to know that you are aware that many of us are working more hours to earn money than would perhaps be ideal in order to achieve the best academic results. Some of my friends have approached the university and whilst the debt counsellors etc are very good at offering advice fundamentally we simply do not have enough money to get by without working at least a little.
I think the real key to it is working in the least detrimental way possible so that it doesn’t’ impact on academic work as much as it could otherwise. For example I have looked into tutoring at GCSE and A-Levels and have also spoken to the university about jobs that they have within their own four walls. One option that has come to the forefront is that of working within the accommodation halls to get free or cheap accommodation and also to get a large amount of experience with employers who are at least understanding of the issues that we face.
It seems to be a bit unrealistic to expect us not to work at all but if we are a bit clever about it and look at ways of reducing spending as well as on earning extra money then we can at least reduce the amount of time spent away from our studies. Personally I am working in the students union on a couple of evenings a week and this counts as my socialising, I’m earning money and I don’t get a hangover the next day! Think cleverly and it may just let you have it all is my message!