For many students, to work while attending college is a necessity, not a choice. Even with scholarships and financial aid, it’s still hard to pay all of your bills and get some cash out of spending.
But even if you don’t need to work, there are many reasons you should consider. Firstly, it is an easy way to meet new people and gain new skills. Second, the job can teach you valuable lessons about managing money and being accountable. The key is knowing how much you can handle before you start jeopardizing your studies.
Experts say the ideal number of hours for students is 10-15 hours per week. In fact, there is some evidence that working a little while you are in school can actually improve your chances of graduating.
Benefits of working while in college
Working during college may seem challenging, but it can also provide benefits. These benefits include avoiding (as much) debt, gaining job experience, learning time management skills, improving your GPA, and getting health care benefits.
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· Avoid or reduce debt
One of the things many college graduates struggle with initially is student loan payments, but working during college can help you reduce or avoid this type of debt. In general, most people who work their way to school have less student loan debt than those who don’t.
If you qualify for scholarships, make sure you follow their employment guidelines while attending school. A part-time job and an accurate budget can help supplement what you earn over the summer to pay for your lessons. Even if you don’t want to work full-time or on a fixed basis, you can consider taking a side job to help you earn extra cash and avoid debt.
· Gain valuable work experience
Having work experience, especially in a field related to your studies, can help you become more competitive once you are ready to enter the full-time job market after college. Check with your college to learn more about possible jobs and internships in your field. You will pay for some internships and can switch to part-time or full-time jobs while completing your degree, or they can help you make connections to help you get a job later.
The Federal Employment Study Program is also a great option that provides you with a way to earn a salary while gaining valuable work experience. Even job experience that is not directly related to your field of work may qualify you for a position that a person without your experience could not get. For example, understanding children and their needs from working in a daycare center might make a difference in getting a job in the marketing department of a toy company compared to someone who has no job experience at all.
· Learn time management skills
Once you start working after college, you often have several projects to reconcile with as well as meetings to attend. Learning to manage your time with the classroom and work will help you adapt more quickly. It will also help you learn how to interact with people at work. There is a difference between working with the people at school and working with the people at your job. These skills will make adjusting to the real world outside of college much easier.
Learning to manage your time effectively can help you do a better job overall. Some students find they do better in school when they have a job because this means that they need to carefully plan the week to set aside time for studying.
· Improve your grades
Some students see that their grades improve when they start work. This is usually the result of learning how to effectively organize and plan their study time. However, there’s a problem: The amount of hours you work can make all the difference to your academic success. Students who work 15 to 20 hours per week generally report higher cumulative rates than those who do not work at all. However, working more than 20 hours per week tends to have a negative effect on their grades.
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It is important to work with the number of hours that are right for you. Your stress doesn’t have to be so big as to distract you, and you should still be able to stay on top of all of your projects.
Should You Work While Attending College?
There are a plethora of reasons why you need or want to work, such as needing additional income, meeting scholarship requirements, or simply wanting to do something besides school during the week. On the other hand, you may have reasons for not needing to work or wanting to work – focusing on your homework, not wanting an extra commitment, having more time to spend with friends, etc.
Everyone is different in what they can handle. While there are definitely stories about people who supported a family and worked two jobs while in college, there are plenty of others about those who endured so much and suffered the consequences.
Only you know how organized you are and how you can work under pressure. Before applying for jobs, create a schedule that includes classes, study time, and extracurricular activities to get a realistic idea of how much time you can devote. Keep in mind that there are always unforeseen circumstances that can take your time off.
Do not limit yourself. In order to successfully integrate a job into your school life, you need to ensure that your studies are prioritized and that you do not feel as if you are missing out on college life.
Does working while attending college worth it?
A job has many other features besides salary. But you should have a good idea of why you are doing this. Not all jobs are created equal. Some offer valuable work experience or college credits. Some even give you valuable connections and exposure.
Ask yourself what you are looking for in a college job. Is it a decent salary? A head start in your career? Comfortable to work on campus? An opportunity to meet people outside the academic environment?
If the job does not meet any of your requirements or the financial rewards are negligible, you may want to reconsider taking it. It is easier to replace the job compared to the university record. Remember why you were in school in the first place – to one day work in your chosen field and find the job of your dreams. Ensure that working part-time reinforces your goals, not hinders them.
Will working while attending college interfere with your university experience?
It is important to remember that you are just a young college student with wide eyes only once (unlike an old student, indignant once you get to graduate school). Freedom will never feel as exciting and unobstructed as it is now. There is something to be said about putting off work and enjoying the college experience for as long as possible. Often engaging in clubs, organizations, and social gatherings is just as beneficial for your future as a job.
However, nothing helps manage your newly acquired freedom and gain a sense of responsibility like a job. Mastering a new skill and feeling as though you are responsible and financially independent can be exciting, if not more, than living alone on a dime from your parents.