The Work-Life Balance of an Engineering Student

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By Caitlin, Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham

For most, finding a good work-life balance can be tricky. With a large amount of contact hours, some might wonder how students studying subjects such as engineering and medicine cope.

Generally, engineering students find themselves with full timetables during the teaching terms. We have lectures, tutorials and laboratories to fill our time with. This can amount to 20+ hours a week spent in university without adding any extra study time on top. Compared to some other subjects, this may seem like a lot as they could have less than 10 contact hours a week. However, these other subjects often do more reading outside of their subject and have a lot of coursework to do instead of exams. Despite all this, it is still possible to be an engineering student and have a life outside of engineering.

Some people choose to fill their remaining spare time with all types of engineering activities. For example, being a member of the UB Racing team, which can be particularly exciting if you have a passion for cars. Other people join societies and sports outside of engineering. There is a full range available at the university, with everybody being catered for.

Furthermore, joining these clubs and societies usually provides for other social outlets. Making friends means more socialising which may amount to trips to the pub, night out clubbing or something more chill, such as nights in watching films.

Sometimes it can be hard to say no to socialising even when you know that you have a lot of work to get on with, but that’s why a balance is important. If you stay organised and on top of your work, there is no reason you won’t have time to spend a few nights a week socialising and keeping up your relationships.

Personally, I often find that I can do a lot of my university work during 9 to 5 days spent on campus. Some of this time is spent in lectures, tutorials or labs, but the rest can be spent studying and working on tutorial questions that have been set for the week, practising what has been covered in the week’s lecture. Then outside of this time, I find myself able to participate in a sports club, attend a society, hang out with my friends and sometimes even venture to the club.

Different people will spread their time out another way with some preferring to spend every night of the week out somewhere with their mates whereas others would much rather be tucked up watching a good film with their flat mates/housemates.

Whatever it is that you prefer to do, being an engineering student will not hinder your social life but it is important to balance between socialising and getting your work done.