VCE Study Tips

Maintaining Work/Study Balance in VCE

Matthew Femia

February 27, 2020

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When did you start your McDonald’s job?

I started at Macca’s when I was fifteen! This meant that by the time Year 12 came around, I was pretty accustomed to balancing work, school and my other commitments.

How did work fit in with school and social life?

I was lucky because I had a good relationship with the management team and my rostering manager in particular. So, I was able to have an open and honest conversation with them about work arrangements for the year and I could trust that the shifts assigned to me would be appropriate for fitting in with all of my other commitments.

How did you organise your workload with your roster manager?

It was pretty straightforward! I had a conversation with my rostering manager about the year and we decided that 10-12 hours would be a manageable amount for me. This ended up being around 2 shifts per week!

Would your social life work around McDonalds?

Definitely! I would usually work Thursday or Friday nights and Saturday mornings. So, this allowed me to see my friends on Saturday nights and Sundays. I would be really strict in not making any commitments (if possible) on Sundays because it was my one day per week to do whatever I felt I needed to alleviate stress and prepare for the week ahead.

What did you do when you had to do more hours than you were comfortable with?

There were a few things I could have done if this happened.

  • Getting my shifts covered or swapping them for days that worked better for my schedule
  • Speaking to the management team and if no action was taken, escalating it to a higher level

I’m pretty lucky with where I work so I was always able to trust they would work towards my best interest, especially throughout Year 12!

How did you respond to last-minute plans?

It’s funny you ask, actually! I actually heard some advice that recommended if an opportunity comes up to do something you like with your friends, to take it. The reason being, that often if you try to plan out a time to see friends in advance, they might not be free, so if you can rework your schedule, I’d recommend taking up the offer and then the studying and homework can easily be done at another time. I’m not recommending that you neglect your schoolwork, I’m recommending that you do your schoolwork once you’ve given yourself a couple of hours a week to take care of yourself — it’s so important to prevent burnout!

How did going out help you to be more productive?

I found that if I saw my friends and had a few laughs with them (at an appropriate time!) it would rejuvenate me so much more effectively than taking a 30 minute break at home. Obviously I wouldn’t accept an invitation to go out for dinner with some mates if I was in the middle of completing a practice exam, but, for example if I’d been studying for four hours straight, seeing my friends would be a perfect opportunity to freshen up my mind and relieve some stress.

How would you organise your work hours depending on your study load?

It was pretty simple, actually! I would look at my SAC schedule and other school commitments in my diary and then roster off the days in the lead up to SACs, etc.

How did you manage work during the exam period?

I actually took 6 weeks of annual leave from work in the lead up to, and during exams. But, I didn’t study all the time, despite having a lot of free time. I obviously studied quite a bit, but I also used any spare moments to see friends and do things I liked to alleviate stress and reduce the risk of my impending burnout!

How long after your exams did you start working again?

I went away for about a week and then I started working a few days after I got back.

Do you have any advice on work/study/life balance?

Be honest with yourself, know what works for you and know your limits. The key factor that enabled me to have an effective work/study/life balance was knowing myself and my needs educationally — from experience, I knew how many days I needed to prepare and what I needed to do to prepare for SACs in the most effective ways!

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