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The new balance between Zoom classes and work schedules

With the expansion of online learning, some students with jobs are able to better customize their schedules


“This semester, many online students are currently balancing a full-time job and remote learning.” Illustration published on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.

Students with jobs have often played a balancing act between work, school and social life. Now some can better customize their schedules with most in-person classes now being offered online.

With only 20% of ASU's student body on campus for in-person classes, a majority of students have opted to learn mostly through Zoom. With no commute times, some students have appreciated the additional flexibility, while others struggle to find a balance.

Baylor Pinkerton, a freshman marketing major, takes classes remotely and works over 30 hours a week at a Chick-fil-A.

"It actually makes things a lot easier because I don’t have to worry about getting into my uniform and going to class,” Pinkerton said. “I have pretty much all of my classes scheduled in the morning from 7:30 to around 11, so I’m able to instantly go to work.” 

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Myrian Ochoa, a senior psychology major who opted to take all of her in-person classes online, is a full-time phone operator at a Best Buy store. She said it's been a challenge balancing work and school, but her job allows her to do school work between work calls. Still, she said her focus is always divided and she can never devote all of her attention to one task.

“The way that I work is I need strict routine, otherwise I won’t be there mentally at all,” Ochoa said. “When we all switched to online, I couldn’t wrap my head around not having 16-hour days anymore."

When her workplace's hours changed, Ochoa worried about making room to attend classes. But she was able to strike a deal with her managers to find time to get school work done.  

“They let me come in from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. and let me attend Zoom lectures. I can’t say other companies would let me do that,” Ochoa said. 

Being able to work enough hours to pay bills while still making time to complete school work was a major factor for Pinkerton in deciding which path to choose when ASU began offering remote classes. 

“I planned all of my classes to be in the morning with the thought of having a full-time work schedule in the afternoon,” Pinkerton said. “Most nights I get off around 8 p.m., so I’ll usually have about four hours until the deadline to get my homework done.” 

The limitations on his availability to do school work due to his schedule at Chick-fil-A make working on large projects difficult, as well as finding time to do activities he enjoys outside of work and school, Pinkerton said.

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“I don’t have a whole lot of free time,” Pinkerton said. “If I want to go to the gym, I either have to go after my deadlines or before my classes start. And if I want to hang out with friends, I have to knock out all my homework and then I can’t stay up too late or else I won’t be able to wake up for my classes in the morning.” 

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While some students have found online learning beneficial, others have struggled with juggling jobs and the University's new learning modalities. 

Jakob Membrila, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, is an operations technician at Oceanside Ice Arena, home to ASU's ice hockey teams.

“I think it’s gotten harder with remote learning because the rest of my schedule is much more free-forming,” Membrila said. “The problem I’m running into is the way I’ve learned to learn over the course of my entire scholastic career has gone away and I feel as if I am having to figure out how to learn again.” 

While Membrila is able to work more hours at his job because of online learning, he said he misses roaming ASU’s Tempe campus and in-person learning.

He said it's much easier to procrastinate on assignments when attending classes virtually and has had to adapt to managing what time he has. 

“I’m very used to sitting in the exact same spot in class, opening my laptop, getting my programs ready and all of that has gone away,” Membrila said. 

Although it requires strict time management and limited free time, Pinkerton said working and attending school full time has been a positive experience.

“Working a full-time job and attending school full time has definitely improved my time management skills and my grades are a lot better than they were in spring,” Pinkerton said.

Reach the reporter at and follow @agally72 on Twitter. 

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