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Students struggle to balance school and work

Karen Lopez
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Vanessa Jones, a junior at UNC Asheville, said it can be difficult staying awake for homework due to exhaustion from working long hours and caring for her son.
Jones, an Asheville resident and single mother of a 4-year-old boy, said she tries to find time to study and do homework before school, during lunch breaks and on weekends.
“I used to work full time, but now that I’m a full-time student, I work 25-30 hours per week,” Jones said. “This all causes tons of stress. I want to breathe, but I feel that I don’t have much room to breathe.” 

Sites like this are common in many a library on a university campuses. Photo by Wan Mohd
Sites like this are common in many a library a university campuses. Photo by Wan Mohd

Due to anxiety, Jones said she is developing health problems, because she is an emotional eater when busy and stressed.
“When I’m in a hurry and on the go, fast food is my best friend,” Jones said.
Brenda Santos, a 23-year-old UNCA alumna, said she experienced the stress of balancing work and school.
“Having to cram everything in one day was the most stressful for me,” Santos said. “I didn’t have a life.”
Santos said she worked six days a week and attended school Monday through Friday. She was a full-time student and an almost full-time employee.
“I worked 30-35 hours per week and had to make time for school, homework and family,” Santos said.
Jones said her social life was nonexistent, because she had other important things to worry about.
“I did not have time for me, and definitely did not have time to go out with friends,” Santos said. 

Many students find themselves cracking under stress throughout the school year. Photo by Bernard Goldbach
Many students find themselves cracking under stress throughout the school year. Photo by Bernard Goldbach

Santos said it was difficult for her to stay up at night and do homework or study because by the end of the day she would be exhausted.
“My grades were OK,” Santos said.“I feel that if I didn’t have to work so much, my grades would’ve been better.”
Jay Cutspec, director of the Health and Counseling Center at UNCA, said students who work and attend school full time have an unusual set of stresses.
“Students come to counseling for academic stress, but their stress truly comes from the struggle in balancing work and school responsibilities,” Cutspec said.
Cutspec said he worked while he was in college because he wanted to have his own money.
“I personally think that everyone should work, because working gives you a sense of
accomplishment and self-efficacy,” Cutspec said.
There are advantages to working on campus, Cutspec said.
“I encourage students to work on campus,” Cutspec said. “Most departments are reasonable with work schedules that accommodate to school schedules. You can do school work while getting paid, and you can establish relationships with staff members within your working department.”
Jones said it is important to find a balance between work and health.
“I only have one more year left,” Jones said.  “I’m going to try to find a balance for everything, because if I’m not healthy, I can’t perform my best.”

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