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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Working Toward the Future: Balancing Work, School, and Everything in Between

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Moreno at the beginning of her academic career. (Photo Courtesy of Gina Moreno)

 

The “working college student” has been a staple of campus culture for nearly as long as the institution has existed, and many students today can still be found behind registers or interning for a local business in between lectures and study groups. Stanislas State is no stranger to the working undergraduate, and as a part-time student and full-time employee, Gina Moreno maintains the fast-paced schedule that both obligations require. 

Managing the two disparate worlds of business and academia often means that college students like Moreno need to balance work, school, and homework while still trying to squeeze in some free time to wind down from a hectic schedule. With added pressure from familial and home maintenance duties, the already lengthy list of obligations the average student is responsible for can grow to seemingly insurmountable lengths.

Pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, Moreno has been attending Stan State while working full-time at ImageMasters, a small promotional products business based in Merced. Having worked full-time for six years, Moreno began attending Stan State during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite beginning her educational Career at Stan State during such a turbulent time, she claims that the timing of her enrollment actually helped with her adjustment to balancing the responsibilities of work and school. 

“Having classes online has made it possible for me to miss no class,” Moreno said. “I can attend class on my phone, my laptop, my work computer. I’ve never missed class because of it.” 

Having such easy access to online lectures and discussion boards eliminated the need for a daily or even weekly commute and, as she works roughly forty minutes away from campus, having classes online has been a huge aid in ensuring that lectures are never missed and projects are submitted on time. ImageMasters has also played a large role in Moreno’s academic success due to their flexibility and attitude toward education. 

“I work for a company that’s very flexible and pro-school,” Moreno explained. “I probably couldn’t have gotten far without that support.” 

Despite the fact that her schooling is based almost entirely online, Moreno has been able to cultivate relationships with her peers through the many screens she interacts with daily. 

“I’ve actually managed to make a lot of friendships through these screens and managed to have friendships that I’m taking beyond school,” she said. 

This growing social network has even been somewhat strengthened by the use of online components, as Moreno explained.

“I have people I reach out to all the time because they’re my friend, not just a classmate.”

Even with the ease of socializing through technology, however, there still exists the struggle of striking a balance between friends, school, and work.

While able to gracefully navigate through the business and academic worlds, Moreno still faces the age-old struggle of winding down after a full day of work and school. Stress and time management are ever-present issues associated with college students and recent studies have shown that college students have reported increased levels of mental distress during the pandemic. 

Moreno is more than familiar with this struggle for peace of mind, and like many other students, exerts a great deal of mental energy completing all the day’s necessary tasks. 

“The biggest challenge is managing it all,” she explains, “I work full-time, and even though I’m going to school part-time, your brain never shuts off, even when your computer shuts off you’re still in that same work environment, so it was hard for me to find a ‘shut-off valve’.” 

Even with all the pressures of business and school, Moreno has been able to strike a balance between these two aspects of her life. When asked for advice about how to handle the nearly overwhelming amount of commitments that work and school demand, Moreno emphasized the importance of asking the people and groups in one’s community for support. 

“Reach out to people in your community if you’re struggling with something,” Moreno advises, “It’s hard to reach out and ask for help, but that’s been the thing that gets me through challenging times.” 

With her bachelor’s degree a mere semester away, she has not only achieved the difficult task of managing work, life, and school, she has proved that no matter how complex and stressful the life of a student can be, success will come to those who pursue it.
 

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Working Toward the Future: Balancing Work, School, and Everything in Between