Illustration by LaQuann Dawson

Lindsay Miller

Lauren Nervo balances two part-time jobs, 15 credit hours and involvement in a campus sorority.

Nervo, a sophomore early childhood education major, is no stranger to balancing a busy schedule.

“When I was in high school I did everything possible both in and out of school,” Nervo said.

Many Kent State students work part-time and full-time jobs to help pay for school. More than 80 percent of Kent State students receive financial aid, including work-study opportunities. Many students need to make an income to help pay for loans, books, social activities, bills and school.

Kent State is home to more than 200 student organizations, 20 sororities and fraternities, 18 sports teams and more than 1,000 programs and events yearly. With many opportunities presented to students, it is not unlikely for students to overbook themselves.

A 2012 graduate at Stow-Munroe Falls High School in Stow, Nervo said she was involved with student council, elected president her senior year and worked in the athletic office.

As president of her student council, Nervo said she was busy planning leadership retreats, leadership exchanges, blood drives, pep rallies, school dances, food drives, community service events and more.

Outside of school, Nervo said she participated in a community show choir called ETC, or Energy, Talent and Commitment.

When she came to Kent State, Nervo said she wanted to change it up.

“When I came to college my first semester, I decided I was going to take a break and enjoy life a little more,” Nervo said. “I planned on not joining anything my first semester so that I could adjust to the college life.”

Nervo said not getting involved didn’t last very long.

She got a part-time job as a sales associate at Bath and Body Works in Stow, where she works up to 16 hours a week. Nervo said she is also a teacher’s assistant at the Child Development Center on campus where she works a minimum of nine hours a week. But even with two jobs, she wanted to do more.

“My first semester sophomore year, I realized that while I had made an amazing friend group, something was still missing,” Nervo said. “This is when I decided that joining a sorority and continuing to work would be great for me. I would say that at this point, I am back to doing just as much as I did in high school.”

Andie Hauck, junior nutrition major and member of the Kent State dance team, said she balances 20 to 30 hours a week at her job, 14 credit hours and 15 hours a week for dance practices.

“It takes extra time to write out a set schedule I need to follow in order to get everything done on time,” Hauck said. “I don’t get many hours for work because I have school and dance team and yet I need money for both.”

Hauck, a crewmember at the Hudson Chipotle Mexican Grill, said she also has added stress from commuting.

“It takes about 15 minutes [to commute] from my house and about 30 minutes from campus,” Hauck said. “Because of traffic in the Kent area, I’m often late to work.”

Hauck said commuting, on top of other stressors, has lead to a stressful college experience, and it was something she wasn’t immediately ready for after high school.

“I experienced stress my senior year of high school because I did post-secondary, but I struggled a lot being in high school having to do college-level work,” Hauck said. “If I knew in high school that I could handle this much work in college, I would’ve done so much better in high school than I already did.”

Hauck said she learned how to deal with the stress by sleeping, working out and staying active.

Associate psychology professor Jeffrey Ciesla said students who are stressed out may cut physical activity and sleep out to make time for other things, which often leads to more stress or health problems.

“College students seem to think they are invulnerable, the ‘I can sleep when I’m dead’ kind of thing,” Ciesla said. “That’s not a good way of handling life. College students don’t think of it as something that’s important — it’s something you can steal from when you need to add more hours to your day — and it’s not a good way of handling things.”

Nervo said she does not forget about the sleep she needs, but that she uses it to motivate her to get done with her work.

“Shockingly, I rarely nap because [I] try to get ahead in my other classes so I have free time later,” Nervo said. “I typically try and get most of my homework for the week done on Tuesday nights, which leaves me with no homework over the weekend. Once everything is done, I know I get to sleep.”

Nervo said she stays proactive because she doesn’t want to fail.

“I have a 3.6 GPA with all that I do,” Nervo said. “Grades are very important to me. I would get more stressed out, on top of everything, if I were to fail or have bad grades.”

Ciesla said people create their own problems, stress included, especially when it comes to failing.

“It is important that we understand the role we play in our own lives, that we attempt to handle the things in our life that we can in the best way possible,” Ciesla said. “For example, as a college student, if you don’t study for an exam until the night before, now you have one stressor and high probability of a second one. The first one is now you have to cram. You have an exam that shouldn’t have been a major stressor but now has become one because you haven’t studied. You brought about a higher probability that you have failed the exam.”

Hauck, who maintains a 3.0 GPA, said she uses her motivation to stay ahead on her homework and to avoid the stress that comes with procrastination.

“School is my priority because I want to succeed in this career,” Hauck said. “I need to work extra hard. What motivates me is how competitive my major is and that I want to do well in my career.”

Nervo said her future career and current job as a teaching assistant motivates her to continue to learn and stay focused.

“I know that every single time I set foot into the classroom I work in, I am going to gain more knowledge and skills than anywhere else,” Nervo said. “My major is Early Childhood Education, so being able to work in a kindergarten classroom is an experience that I would not give up for anything because that is what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

Because Nervo has such a busy schedule and two jobs, she has had to call off work before.

“I have had to call off twice this semester at Bath and Body Works due to big exams I had the next day,” Nervo said.

Jessica Peck, graduate appointee in the Career Services Center, said most employers understand if school interferes with work.

“Campus jobs at Kent tend to be very flexible because supervisors are very aware that students are first and foremost students,” Peck said. “Campus employers especially know that students are balancing work and class, and the primary reason why students are here is to complete their degree.”

Nervo said her managers are very understanding if she has school commitments.

“They realize I am a student first,” Nervo said. “Typically, I make sure someone can take my shift before I call off. Many of the employees are also Kent State students that understand the workload. I have never had to call off at the Child Development Center because I work there before my classes start for the day. I have had to sub for students who did have to call off for school related things. They are all incredibly understanding at the CDC and help to find a replacement for you.”

Peck said most campus employers are very reasonable when it comes to helping students who are stressed about their hours working and studying.

Peck said students can often ask for more flexibility with their work schedules or a cut in hours if necessary, but a cut in hours can pose the concern of making less money.

“Whether asking for more flexibility or a cut in hours, a student should absolutely feel comfortable asking an employer,” Peck said. “Employers would rather see students approach them about it when they first have trouble than see that student’s work start to fail.”

Peck said when students are balancing a full plate, it is important to make sure you aren’t putting 100 percent focus on just one thing. It is about finding a balance of good grades, work experience and extra-curricular activities.

Hauck said it isn’t always easy being a student athlete, trying to balance work, class and practice because of her missed opportunities.

“I don’t get to go out as much as normal college students do, but in reality it’s not really what college is all about so it doesn’t bother me too much,” Hauck said. “But I wish I could get involved with volunteering and joining more nutrition clubs on campus.”

Nervo said she only has one complaint about juggling a busy schedule.

“There never seem to be enough hours in the day,” Nervo said. “I don’t find myself going to bed before 1:30 a.m. or 2 a.m. many days. I work in the mornings, go to class, go to my second job and come back around 11 p.m., then I have to do my homework and maintain good grades. I work hard for everything I do, and I feel very accomplished at the end of each week.”

Contact Lindsay Miller at [email protected]