Exploring mixed emotions and emotion-regulation strategies of students balancing higher education with employment
Higher education participation rates are rising globally, and an increasing proportion of students are combining educational studies with paid employment. A plethora of research has focused on examining the nexus between higher education and employment, with outcomes largely geared towards investigating the negative effects of combining these roles. Limited scholarly attention has been directed towards understanding the emotional impact and effect on work-life balance when navigating the challenges associated with combining higher education and employment. This manuscript reports on 20 undergraduate student interviews from a higher education institution in Sri Lanka. Drawing from an emotion-regulation perspective, this research examines the ways in which students experience and manage emotions when combining higher education studies with employment. The Sri Lankan context provides an interesting case given the presence of rapid economic growth in the region, coupled with a rise in higher education involvement. The findings highlight that polarised mixed emotions are prevalent amongst a cohort of students who combine higher education with employment. Overall, the research supports further exploration of the emotional challenges of students balancing higher education and employment to effectively prepare students for the complexities of combining these roles.