Working during college can be challenging, especially when you’re getting used to the new and unfamiliar environment. But working has both financial and professional benefits — it can provide you with tuition support, pay for things like books to entertainment or become an opportunity to add to a résumé.

However, there’s a lot to think about when deciding how much time you can dedicate to a job while taking classes. You may have less financial stress, but you want to make sure that academics remain your top priority, too. Before committing to a job, there are factors you should take into account.

Consider your reasons for working

Is working a necessity? It’s a good question to ask yourself since this can influence your school choice. For some of you, working might be necessary to support your financial situation — your wages will help pay your tuition or student loans. For others, the money will be used for purchasing books or paying for social events and entertainment. Then, there are those of you who work to boost savings or for work experience. If you’re considering working, a school in a city will offer more employment opportunities than a school in a rural community.

Work-study vs off-campus employment

The kind of job you choose will depend on your financial needs and skills. One option is work-study, a form of financial aid that can be awarded as part of your aid package. As a work-study student, you’re given a specific amount of hours per week, and employers typically work with your class schedule. You are paid directly and your earnings won’t reduce your financial aid eligibility.

If you choose not to accept a work-study position, any outside earnings have to be reported and could have an impact on your financial aid eligibility. However, there are some students who may need to earn more money than work-study will allow, so traditional jobs are a better option.

Depending on your class schedule, you can also consider paid internships to gain work experience in your field of choice. Keep in mind that they often require you to commit to a set schedule so make sure the job aligns with your personal and academic responsibilities too.

Choose the job that meets your needs

Your finances may influence whether you go to school part-time or full-time. Choose employment that best fits your priorities, but think about other factors that will take up your time. If you need to remain close to campus, look for jobs with a reasonable commute. You should also understand whether the position will require you to bring work home since you will also need to focus on school and studying.

You’ll likely need a flexible schedule to ensure you get to classes on time and are able to meet other commitments like club meetings and events. Consider working at restaurants, retail stores and childcare or eldercare facilities, or look for office positions that offer more flexibility for your school schedule.

Maintain a balance for life, school and work

It’s critical that you balance school and work so you don’t affect your academic or work performance. Several studies show that working 10–12 hours a week shouldn’t affect grades. But if you need or want to work more, consider how it’ll affect your time and your well-being. Other obligations and stress can interfere with school so consider how much of an emotional and physical investment you can make to any position.

Assess your schedule carefully each semester, consider your classes and make sure to build in time to study before committing time to work. Don’t forget personal time too. Seeing friends and relaxing will give you the rest and rejuvenation you’ll need to prevent a school and work overload.

Finding a healthy balance between life, school and work will ensure you’ll be able to reap the benefits of a college job — while still making the most of your college experience.