For many college students, working while attending college is a harsh reality. You need to figure out how to balance a job with everything else you have going on. Scheduling becomes very important.
There are basically two types of jobs – on-campus and off-campus. On-campus employment will take your class schedule into account when they schedule you to work. Working on campus eliminates a commute. Check with your student employment office for open positions. Many colleges offer work in your field of study, which could be invaluable. Some campus jobs come with perks – food, entertainment, etc. If you are eligible for the Federal Work-Study program, go to your financial aid office to find out how to take advantage of this opportunity. These jobs can be on-campus and off-campus and are usually at a non-profit organization or public agency. Flexible hours are usually available.
If you choose to work off-campus, be sure your boss knows your class schedule. Be honest about your time needs. Many employers are sympathetic to the plight of the working college student and are willing to work with you. Communication is key. Family-owned businesses may be more understanding and willing to work around a class schedule.
Another option for employment is to offer your services for a fee. If you like to type, edit papers, or tutor other students why not get paid for it? Put up posters around campus that tell students what you are offering and how much you charge.
Some students choose to work during the summer and during breaks, but not during the school year. The money you make during breaks is supposed to last you the entire school year, so make sure you learn to budget your money.
Regardless of where you work, don’t try to take on too many hours. Studies show that students who work more than 20 hours a week while attending school full-time experience more stress and have a larger chance of dropping out of school. Remember, your focus should be on your education.
If you find that you have to work full-time to make ends meet while attending college, keep in mind that full-time employment may impair your academic performance. 55% of those students who work more than 35 hours per week report that work has a negative effect on their studies. Students who work full-time also reported the following: 40% report that work limits their class schedule; 36% report it reduces their class choices; 30% report it limits the number of classes they take; and 26% report it limits access to the library. Attending college full-time and working full-time is not impossible, but it is more challenging.
Take full advantage of down time. Study during your breaks at work. Talk to your employer about studying during lulls at work – some bosses can be very accommodating.
Working while in college offers more than just the chance to make money. Working helps to develop contacts and references, allows you to observe different management styles, allows you to practice your skills, helps you to develop a work ethic, and develops leadership skills. Employers are more inclined to hire graduates who have work experience. Even if the job is unrelated to the field for which the candidate is applying, working has developed competencies and transferable skills.
While working in college is important, it’s not for everyone. Working must be kept in perspective. It should be a complement rather than a hindrance to the student’s academic activities. If you are not sure if working is for you, try it. If it doesn’t work or if academic problems occur you can resign from your position.
Have something to say? Feel free to add comments or additional information.