Four Differences Between Full-time Work and School

Ideally, college students use summer break for a breath of fresh air. Away from the academics and stress of school, the pause from action is needed for many. But realistically, most students work full time, instead.

Working full time requires long hours, filled with mindless tasks only to receive minimum wage and coming home to unwind from a hectic shift. Then, maybe even, getting ready to go to a second job. The struggle at home is balancing a social life and trying to make some extra spending money for when you move back to school in the fall. 

Now, going to school full time is very similar, but there is a little more understanding to having a crazy schedule and stretching yourself thin. Professors and advisors understand you’re a student first, and academics are your top priority. But, responsibility lands on your shoulders if you are manning clubs and extracurriculars.

Here are the four major differences I realized this summer between being a full-time worker versus being a full-time student.

Required Uniform

The company polo and khaki shorts are out of style! The multiple loads of laundry a week to keep the uniform clean and professional for all of the customers is gone, and casual campus wear is back in. Of course, some events might require a little bit of dressing up and effort. But, nothing will ever replace the iconic ponytail and company t-shirt look.

A Revival of a Social Life

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your co-workers. Depending on how many jobs you balanced over the summer [for example, I had three over the break!], time for friends and family might have been scarce. From the moment you step on campus, you are surrounded by young adults all around the same age. Being productive with your friends is ideal, with coffee dates and study sessions at the library. 

A Lack of Cash

This is probably the worst part of returning back to being a full-time student. Money gets stretched thin and every dollar counts toward the end of the semester. On the other hand, though, the summer is filled with spontaneous ice cream trips and purchases because of the biweekly paychecks and extra tip money in your pocket.

Home Cooked Meals Are Rare

Living at home and working over the summer has its benefits, like having dinner ready when you get home after a long day. A meal on the table is always nice, but that disappears once you’re back on your own as a one-man-band. Dining halls and microwave meals in your dorm are the main entrees.

10 Essential Items to Bring to College

As the first child in my family to go away to college, it’s safe to say I was absolutely clueless when it came to deciding what I needed to pack. Other than the obvious [bed sheets, clothes, etc.], I didn’t really know what other items would be essential and which I could live without. I definitely overpacked freshman year [I probably overpacked sophomore year too, but that’s just how I am, okay? I have a lot of stuff]. Fortunately, between all of us here at LVNG Limitless, we’ve had a LOT of time to learn from trial and error. Here are our top 10 essential items that made life so much easier when going away to school. [Find a ~complete~ college packing list from Alicia here.] —Grace

Planner

All throughout elementary school, I was given a year-long academic planner [along with other generic school supplies] from the school’s administration. By the time I went to high school, it was just natural for me to purchase a planner with the rest of my notebooks. It wasn’t until I got to college and realized that not everyone plans out every minute of every day [guilty] in a spiral-bound book. But trust me, you’re gonna want some way to keep track of your classes, papers, exams and any other meetings or events you have going on throughout the year. Recently, I’ve started utilizing Google calendar more, but there’s just something about having a pen and paper record of my responsibilities that makes me feel more organized. [Pro tip: Our fav planner brands are Passion Planner, Blue Sky and Vera Bradley.]

Headphones

It seems like an unimportant item, but when finals are coming up and the population on campus seems to double as everyone finally begins to attend class and camp out at the library, you’re really going to want a pair of headphones. We recommend investing in a high-quality pair [we recommend AirPods and wireless Powerbeats] to drown out any distractions while trying to be productive. [Bonus: having a pair of wireless headphones will also be incredibly convenient during your workouts.]

Multi-drawer cart

Let’s be honest, dorm living does not come with a lot of storage and it doesn’t cost much to provide some of your own [ask your roommate to split the cost to make it even cheaper!]. Home goods stores are the perfect go-to when looking for practical storage products. The most ideal is a rolling cart that contains multiple drawers. The drawers can be so convenient to store snacks and other miscellaneous items while the wheels make it easy to keep it out of the way.

Mattress topper

You know the stories of dorm mattresses having absolutely no comfort factor? Yeah, well, those stories are true and I guarantee that if you try to sleep on the mattress as is, you’re not going to be very well rested. Simple mattress toppers can be inexpensive, especially the ones made specifically for dorm beds [twin XL, in most cases, if you were wondering]. It doesn’t take anything too fancy, but even just some layer of cushion on top of the stiff springs and vinyl fabric will improve your sleep drastically.

French Press

Coffee is expensive. As a self-proclaimed coffee addict, I can tell you for a fact that spending $2.75 on an iced coffee everyday really does add up. So, for Christmas I asked for a french press coffee maker and finally made the switch during spring semester [I still buy coffee, of course, but significantly less]. The beauty of a french press is that you have the option to brew coffee regularly for a hot morning mug, or brew the grinds with cold water and let sit in the fridge overnight for a sweet glass of iced coffee. Bags of coffee grinds and coffee creamer are much cheaper than most individual coffee drinks and require purchase a lot less frequently. [Alternative: Keurig’s are also a convenient replacement to the dorm-forbidden coffee pot, but lack the option of cold brew – some brands even make biodegradable K cups for those of you worried about the waste that a Keurig produces.]

Powerstrip

You probably won’t have many outlets in your dorm room [or, if you do, they may all end up on your roommate’s side]. Specific powerstrips are allowed in the dorms and are a lifesaver when all you have to work with for the year is one single outlet. You’re going to need more things plugged in than you might realize [phone charger, laptop charger and a lamp, to name a few]. 

Printer
In true collegiate fashion, most universities charge a fee to use the library’s printers. Investing in a high-quality printer that will last even after you’ve graduated is the smartest move. Not only will you save on each page printed [we promise, at some point you’re going to have to write a long essay and it’s going to need to be printed and those 75 cents per-page can really add up], but you will also be able to print from the comfort of your own home. There’s nothing worse than realizing that final paper due first-thing tomorrow has yet to be printed and the nearest printer is nowhere near your way to class.

Command Strips

Check with your specific residence hall on this one, but most dorms require Command Strips when hanging picture frames, tapestries, etc. Though some newer dorms prefer you use nails, most will opt for the less-mess alternative. Command Strips will protect your walls from any holes or damages that you could be charged for at the end of the year. Command Hooks also offer one more place to store items like towels, jackets and bags.

Water bottle / reusable cups

We’re all about reducing our plastic use and reusable water bottles and cups are the easiest way to do so. Brands like Camelbak and Hydroflask are specifically designed to keep your water cold for long periods of time, so you’ll stay adequately hydrated during a long day of classes. Reusable cups and straws are also a good alternative when buying coffee or tea from cafes on campus [most coffee shops will even offer a discount if you bring your own cup!].

Drawer liners

Dorms are the perfect place for germs to manifest. Sharing such a small space with another person is bound to make cold and flu season unbearable [if your roommate gets sick, you may as well start counting down the days until you’re sick as well]. Though each dorm is cleaned after former residents move out, one place that is most commonly neglected are the inside of dresser drawers. Sticky temporary drawer liners not only provide a layer of protection from any lingering germs, but also add a flare to the drab school-issued furniture. 

~Still want more? Check out our girl Savannah’s college packing essentials!~