Should Students Have A Job During College

by mike on September 9, 2011

It’s the age-old question.  Should students work while going to college?  There are many reasons people give for students not to work: they have to concentrate on their studies, they need time to adapt to their new surroundings, they have their whole lives to work, now is a time to have fun.  Although there could be some slight validity to some of these points, most of them make no sense.  Let’s take a look at each one.

1) Students should not work because they have to concentrate on their studies.

College was not all that long ago for me (OK, it was about 8 years ago now, but that’s not THAT long, is it?) .  If my memory doesn’t fail me, I did not spend all of my time in college studying or in class.  In fact, I didn’t spend that much time at all working on my grades.  Granted, I could have spent more time and maybe ended up with a 4.0 GPA instead of a 3.3 GPA.  But, even if I had doubled the amount of time studying, I still would have had plenty of time to work.  I generally worked somewhere around 20-30 hours during the school year.  I often worked more than one job during the summers to really save up some money.  The point is that my grades were not affected by this.  Considering I still had plenty of time to play Madden football on the Playstation 2 and spend way too much time partying, I didn’t seem to be lacking in time to do things.  What I should have done was play and party less and study more.  Work had nothing to do with it.

In fact, a study done in 1993 showed that students who worked 11-20 hours per week had higher GPA’s than those who did not work at all.  I totally see how this is possible.  In high school, I was always better about studying and getting my homework done during basketball season.  The reason was because I knew I had to have good time management.  I only had a certain amount of hours in the day to accomplish school work, so I worked on it as soon as I had the chance.  When it wasn’t basketball, I would lounge around stare at the TV after school thinking I would have plenty of time “later” to do my school work.  “Later” would come and it was time for sleep.  This happened all the time and I learned that time management is an extremely important skill.  Working during college helps build that skill.

2) Students should not work because they need to adapt to their new surroundings.

I literally have heard people use this as an excuse for their child not to work at school.  It’s as if a job will prevent someone from getting used to living away from home and having a new found freedom.  I think the opposite is true.  There is something sort of scary and powerful about that feeling of freedom.  For most students, going away to college is the first time they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, with whoever they want.  The parents are not around to answer to.  Some students handle this well, most do not.  And the more free time someone has, the more likely they are to find trouble.  It’s similar to what I discussed above.  If a student can get into a routine of class, work, study right from the start, it gives more of a structure to the newly found free life.

3) Students should not work because they have their whole lives to work, now is a time to have fun.

I am sorry, but this is the most ridiculous reason I have heard.  Outside of reason #1, this is the reason I have heard most often from parents who tell their child not to get a job while in college.  This is a fine reason not to work if you don’t mind having tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.  The student may have a blast for four years in college, but the next ten to twenty will be miserable paying back loans.  Not that working during school alone will prevent student loans, but generally someone with this attitude is not the type who will be avoiding loans at all cost.  As stated earlier, to think that someone cannot do well in school, work, and still have fun is absurd.  Good time management will allow a student to do all three.

As you have guessed, my answer to “should students have a job during college?” is a resounding yes!  It will show your future employer that you are not afraid of work which could go a long way towards getting your first “real” job.  Also, if you are careful about the type of job you get, it may directly help your career.  You may meet the right person in your field.  Whether you like it or not, a major part of getting a job is who you know.  In the current economy, the more people you know if your line of work the better!

Did you work during college?  What kind of job did you have?


Content Source: Zac Bissonette’s book Debt Free U

Photo Source: koalazymonkey

  • Jonathan White

    Mike, like you I worked a good 20-30 hours a week during college (sometimes even 35-40!) and it did not harm me one bit. In fact it actually helped me because I valued school a lot more and it enabled me to graduated college debt free!

    I worked the first two year of school bagging groceries and stocking shelves in the mornings and in my junior and senior years, I was a parking attended for the Columbus Blue Jackets. They were great jobs that allowed me to work when I wasn’t in school. Even though I worked a lot during school, I still had time to play video games with my roommates, have fun on the weekends, and go to every Ohio State football game. So yes, working during college will not hurt you one bit, in fact it will probably help appreciate your education.

  • Anonymous

    That is so awesome Jonathan!  I can’t believe you are still alive after all that work!

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