HOW TO BALANCE TECH AND ACADEMIA

Vincent Favour
8 min readJan 20, 2024
Image by the author

A dilemma many of us in the tech space face

As a passionate computer science student deeply immersed in technology, I’ve grappled with the formidable challenge of balancing my academic pursuits with my tech-driven aspirations.

It’s a dilemma many of us in the tech space face — juggling exams, assignments, and classes while navigating work deadlines and meetings. I’ve observed friends in my institution missing classes due to gigs and jobs, some are okay in their current state of living, asking what more academics can bring to the table when they’re already earning from their tech endeavors.

It’s a struggle I’m familiar with, but in the following sections, I’ll share how I’ve successfully navigated this delicate balance as a data enthusiast.

If you’re reading this, congratulations. Your willingness to seek a solution shows reasonableness and determination. In the upcoming sections, I’ll delve into the challenges of balancing tech and academics as an undergraduate and, more importantly, provide actionable keys to overcome these hurdles.

Balancing the technological and academic facets of university life poses challenges across three distinct categories of individuals.

Firstly → Some are in the initial stages of learning how to code, and navigating the complexities of a rapidly evolving tech landscape.

Secondly → A unique cohort comprises individuals who are mastering coding skills and are simultaneously juggling additional jobs, aiming to earn income and gain valuable hands-on experience.

Lastly → Some seasoned professionals have already achieved proficiency in their respective domains; their focus primarily revolves around securing jobs and building a sustainable income.

Balancing academic and tech pursuits is a formidable task, with distinct challenges that resonate with many readers. Among them, three distinct categories emerge, each facing its own set of challenges.

1. Juggling Academia and Coding: A Nine-Course Dilemma

Federal University of Petroleum Resources

Consider the scenario of students tackling diverse courses like Chemistry, Geography, Zoology, Petroleum Engineering, and Mathematics, while simultaneously immersing themselves in coding frameworks such as Angular and Vue. With a staggering load of nine courses per semester, the struggle to carve out time for coding amidst rigorous academic demands is palpable.

This predicament often forces a difficult choice — whether to prioritize consistent growth in tech or to excel academically.

2. The Power Struggles: Running Through the Rain for Coding Time

Photo by Anthony Indraus on Unsplash

Another hurdle is the persistent issue of power supply, a common concern for tech enthusiasts. Imagine a four-hour planned coding session in the afternoon can unravel when faced with electricity interruptions, leading to missed deadlines, job losses, and discouragement after the experiences of running through the rain in search of power.

3. Absence of Gadgets and the Learning Halt: A Pause Button on Tech Aspirations

Photo by Blake Connally on Unsplash

The lack of essential gadgets, including laptops and reliable internet connections, impedes the progress of those eager to upskill in the tech field. This shortage often pushes individuals to temporarily halt their learning journey.

4. Not Setting Priorities Right: A Delicate Balancing Act

As tech enthusiasts walk the tightrope of balancing their coding passion with academic commitments, here’s a scenario that hits close to home.

Imagine having a significant coding project lined up, and just around the corner, there’s a week packed with tough exams. It’s not just a balancing act; it’s a genuine challenge. The pressure is real.

You’re faced with the dilemma of managing both coding and studying during a critical time. It’s a scenario that tests your ability to handle the stress of meeting coding deadlines while ensuring you’re prepared for exams.

It’s not for the faint-hearted, but for those navigating this path, it’s a clear illustration of the hurdles that come with simultaneously managing coding projects and academic responsibilities.

5. Lacking Honesty with Clients: A Dilemma for Job Seekers

Now, here’s a common issue for those in category three — the folks taking on jobs.

Picture this: you don’t always spill the beans to your clients about being a student. Why?

Well, there’s this fear that being a student might make them hesitant to hire you. So, you try to look as professional as possible without mentioning your student status. It’s like walking a fine line between being honest and scoring that job.

This struggle highlights the challenge of trying to build a professional image while keeping academic commitments under wraps. It’s a real puzzle for those trying to make a mark in the professional world while still dealing with the demands of student life.

7. Impatience and Peer Pressure: The Pitfall

Laugh Out Loud With Tim

Now, let’s talk about something real. Some folks get impatient and feel the pressure to be like those online stars. They want quick success, and it can be overwhelming. What they might not realize is that many of those online gurus they look up to are already done with school — like Ebenezer Don, Adora, and others.

The thing is, when you let impatience and peer pressure drive you, it can lead to some tricky situations. People might make decisions without thinking things through, and that’s when things can go off track.

We have delved into the challenges, recognizing the intricate struggles faced by individuals seeking to balance academics and tech pursuits. Now, let’s transition from identifying the obstacles to charting a course toward solutions and practical steps to achieve equilibrium on both fronts.

First I want you to see these tweets from popular Nigerian techie.

Yes, but if you are a person who can multitask. The key is to truly understand yourself.

Guidelines to Keep in Mind: Dos and Don’ts

  1. If you’ve recently secured admission to the university, it’s advisable to set aside tech pursuits initially and familiarize yourself with the university’s system. Your CGPA significantly depends on a strong start, particularly at my institution, FUPRE. Devoting ample time to reading and understanding the academic structure is crucial, especially during your 100-level. Coding extensively, even for just a couple of hours, may hinder your focus. The best advice is to concentrate on your studies during your early university years; there will be ample time to explore tech in the later stages
  2. If you’re studying a course unrelated to programming but keen on learning tech, crafting a well-structured timetable is crucial. Always prioritize your education; consider it as your topmost commitment. When assignments arise, it’s advisable to temporarily set aside tech endeavors. Reserve moments for learning tech during free extra time, so far you have the necessary resources like a power supply at your disposal
  3. If you’re grappling with challenges like power supply, laptop issues, or data constraints as a student, consider finding a reliable place with electricity to facilitate your coding sessions. Financial constraints may be a hurdle, but it’s essential to ask yourself if there’s a solution to the power issue. One viable option is to invest in a solar panel or a generator, even though it may take time to acquire them. Once in place, you can learn without the stress of hunting for electricity, making the learning and earning process more seamless
  4. If you fall into the third category mentioned earlier — the working class — and discover that you’re frequently missing classes with numerous looming deadlines, it’s crucial to communicate openly with your clients. Let them know you’re a student and that there are times, especially during exam periods, when you need space. I often follow this practice, and it’s usually well-received. Taking breaks during critical exam periods is essential to avoid undue stress on both your CGPA and mental health, as dealing with carryovers can have negative consequences.
  5. Many individuals struggle with the challenge of turning down extra work, driven by the fear of letting down colleagues or the need for additional income, especially among students. While the bonuses associated with extra jobs might be tempting, it’s crucial to remember your role as a student with numerous academic commitments.

Before taking on additional workload, carefully assess your existing work and school responsibilities. It’s essential not to commit to more than you can realistically handle. To assist in managing tasks, consider utilizing to-do list apps like Todoist. This tool provides a detailed breakdown of your tasks and subtasks, offering a comprehensive overview of your upcoming commitments.

6. The demands of balancing academics and a tech career can take a toll on your well-being, increasing the risk of stress-related health issues. It’s crucial to prioritize self-care and incorporate breaks into your routine to prevent burnout.

Explore apps designed for audio stimulation and meditation, such as Calm, to effectively leverage technology for stress reduction.

Taking proactive steps to manage stress ensures you maintain a healthy balance between academic and tech pursuits.

Lastly.

A significant advantage of navigating the tech world as a student is the abundance of communities available to you. Many tech giants offer student ambassador and learner programs, providing an excellent opportunity to connect with like-minded peers.

Having a companion who understands your journey makes the path smoother, offering the necessary support to strike a proper balance. Notable communities include Google Developer Student Clubs and Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors, fostering a supportive environment for both learning and collaboration.

If you’re seeking more advice, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @OgboiFavour or click here

In conclusion, as you embark on the journey of balancing academics and tech pursuits, remember the importance of prioritizing your education. You have to put in more time than people who are just schooling.

Adopting these strategies will not only ease the strain of balancing academics and tech pursuits but also pave the way for progress in both areas.

Connect with me on Twitter @OgboiFavour for ongoing advice and insights. Your engagement matters, so don’t forget to like, share, subscribe, and follow for a continuous flow of tips on navigating this fulfilling journey!

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Vincent Favour

Talks about Programming, Data science, Inspiration quotes and Academic Affairs. Reach me on twitter : @ogboifavour