Full-time jobs leave full-time students overwhelmed with unbalanced lives

Working two part-time jobs on top of school left one student forgetting she has friends and 'another life to live'

As a first-semester freshman in college, Jamarius Mackey worked 45 to 50 hours a week to help support his family after his dad was hospitalized for stage four kidney and heart failure.

Since then, Mackey has struggled to balance a full-time job, full-time education and part-time social life. 

"Between studying for classes and working I hardly had a chance to sleep or socialize, and it was all overwhelming," he said. "I had enough of a balance to maintain my grades but not enough to perform to my fullest potential on assignments."

Mackey is not the only student who has been stretched too thin.

Many other ASU students face similar difficulties when choosing between a good night's rest, good grades, a social life and steady income.

According to a 2020 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, a total of 43% of full-time undergraduate students had jobs in 2018.

Mackey, a freshman studying business, worked as a Walmart manager last semester. After months of having limited sleep and watching his grades and social life suffer, he decided it was time to find a different job, he said. 

Now, he works 20 hours a week, with much more time dedicated to school, friends and sleep.

Izabella Vallejo, a freshman studying elementary education, said she has also compromised her social life for work. Vallejo is the oldest of the six children in her family, and she said a lot of financial responsibility has fallen onto her shoulders since beginning college. 

She said she has had to prioritize paying for groceries, insurance and other necessities, sometimes having to choose between being social or paying for her basic needs.

"Sometimes I have to say no to going out (with friends) because I don't have the money to go out," Vallejo said.

Desirai Sigala, a senior majoring in family and human development, has two part-time jobs. She works as an ASU career and professional development services lead peer worker and as a manager at Rubio's Coastal Grill.

She said being a full-time student while working has caused her to forget about things outside of her job. Sigala has worked throughout her college career in order to keep up with college-related bills, but like Mackey, self-care has taken a toll.

"I always forget that I have friends and actually another life to live," she said.

Kevin Correa, director of the First-Year Success Center at ASU, said students should pace themselves during the school year. At the First-Year Success Center, career coaches are there to help students who may be struggling with a variety of situations.

While students may find it difficult to handle multiple things, finding a system for managing time makes a difference, Correa said.

"I think of the school year as a marathon, not a sprint," he said. "Pacing is really important and to have that longtime approach."


Reach the reporter at agonz295@asu.edu and follow @adriana_gc_ on Twitter.

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