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Question About Juggling a Part Time Job While in Grad School


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I am wondering what part-time hours people have kept while they were in Graduate School. I currently work a job that gives me 30-35 hours a week, and I begin classes this fall. My boss has pretty much set the expectation that I should be available to work whenever I am not in class. I will see how the first few weeks go before demanding that my hours be cut back (despite the fact that I am stressing out about it a month in advance, damn my anxiety disorder). However, I am morbidly curious about what hours people have been able to work part-time during their graduate programs? Is there a recommended amount? 

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Are you doing any sort of work for your graduate program like G/T/R-A? just taking classes and studying?


I'm starting school at the end of this month and will be taking 3 classes plus working ~20hrs a week for a GA position. Between studying, class, GA work, and finding time to do fun things I like to do like ride my bike for an hour or stay in and watch college football or go camping on the weekend, I wouldn't want to do much more than that. Maybe I'll get to school and have tons of free time, but I doubt it. 40 hours a week with a full courseload (are you full-time?) seems like it wouldn't leave time for "me" time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In a previous life, I was working full time, and taking 3 graduate classes per quarter (although the average full-time student there took 4). I was single at the time, and had no pets, and no friends outside of work (which was OK for me then).

At it's hardest, I would get to work around 7 or 8, go to class on any given day for three hours at some point (which my bosses OK'd), and stay at work until about 6 or 7pm. I ate breakfast and lunch at work, usually while working, and occasionally dinner, too. Then I'd go home and read and write for anywhere between 1 and 4 hours. Sometimes I'd pull overnights, but only because of procrastination. 

On top of it, I somehow managed to fit in 2-3 evenings of a martial arts class every week, and attended an every-other-weekend club.

That said, I was NOT healthy. I started getting ill more and more frequently, and more and more seriously. I was very stressed out, and it manifested as resentment towards some of my bosses and coworkers at the time (I was in my early 20's, and unaware of all this then). 

I was (am?) also an incredibly ridiculously ambitious person, to the point that other things are significantly sacrificed. At that time in my life, it was my health. 

Now that I am entering a new graduate program (MA/PhD), I not only have my own health to be vigilant over, but also the health of my family, each of my kids, and my two pets. While having no teaching requirements, I plan to take odd side jobs only within my freelance profession. I wouldn't work more than 20 hours per week now, and that would be really taxing for me.

A lot of it depends on your age and situation; how much you enjoy pushing yourself; what other things you'd like to do outside of work and school, if anything; and whether you can "afford" pushing yourself that hard for an extended period of time. 

Edited by jujubea
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In my masters program, there was a guy who worked full-time for an environmental consulting company while getting his M.S. in Biology. He took 2 courses per semester, and eventually switched over to just thesis credits once his coursework requirements were over. He did just fine, but took 3 years to finish instead of 2. Everyone else also had some sort of job, either doing a 20 hour GA assignment or working part-time somewhere (restaurant, warehouse, etc). One girl did a GA plus about 8 hours of part-time work at a grocery store on the weekend. She ended up doing a summer graduation, though.

I worked full-time (and often overtime) throughout undergrad while taking 20 credits each semester and it worked out fine other than having a limited social life. My first year of grad school I worked around 25 hours each week at a restaurant, and my second year I had a GA assignment. The first year went fine, but the second year was very challenging due to when my GA hours were scheduled. School was 1.25 hours away from home, and my position required me to be there 5 days per week (as opposed to the 2-3 days I had class), and some of the work was at very inconvenient times in relation to my classes and my drive home (I often went to bed at 3 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning and then got up at 7:30 to head back to do more work). 

In general, though, I think how much work you do will be dependent on what your research is like. I'm not sure what museum studies will entail, but for me as an ornithologist, my most time-consuming work takes place in spring and summer, which makes it easier to work during the school year than someone who spends hours in the lab each day year-round.

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