Most students are working during college these days. According to findings by Citi and Seventeen Magazine from a 2013 survey, nearly four out of five (almost 80 percent) of college students work while attending college, with the average student clocking in a work load of 19 hours per week. The study also shows that 71 percent of students are working longer hours to cut college expenses. But should college students work while in college? Many factors should be considered.
Build your resume or focus on school?
One benefit of working while in college is that it can help build your resume, regardless if the job is in your field, according to a Scholarships.com article on balancing work and college.
"If you're lucky enough to find a job that has ties in to your major, you could get a leg up on the rest of your class once you graduate because you'll have more experience in your chosen field," according to the article. "If the job really is a typical college job -- waitressing, working at a retail store, and stacking shelves at the campus bookstore -- you'll still be building a skill set that will come in handy post-college."
Some students prefer not to work while earning a degree so they can focus on getting the best grades possible. It's true that you'll have more time to put toward school if you don't work, provided you use that time wisely. If you feel like even 10-15 hours a week of work will hurt your grades, then perhaps you should consider not working. Or at least not working during the school year and possibly picking up a job during summer or winter break.
Only you can make that call.
More time to enjoy the college experience
Working a part-time or full-time job can take away time from social activities, according to a You University TV article.
"Trying to juggle a job with your college studies can cut into your time to hang out with friends," according to writer Dave Potts. "This could make you feel like the outsider of your group at school. You need to make sure your job allows you to balance and to have enough free time."
In addition to missing out on hangouts with your friends, working during college could prevent you from attending a number of campus events, such as movies on the lawn or football games. While you may be able to land a job that's flexible, it seems unlikely they'll let you choose your own schedule. Is it worth possibly missing out on these once-in-a-lifetime experiences to earn some extra dough?
Again, only you can answer that.
Less debt, more spending money
Perhaps the most compelling reason for working while earning a degree is the money. While it's unlikely to entirely finance your education through a part-time or full-time job, you can still make quite a dent in that college bill by working, according to Kevin Watts of Graduating from Debt.
"Students who neglect to work in college often regret such misguided decisions because they suffer through high interest rates on student loans that hamper their finances," Watts wrote in an article for Frugal Rules. "Even a part time job busing tables or working at a local coffee shop would yield sufficient cash to get you through college without having to borrow too much money."
And if you'd rather not eat Ramen noodles your whole college career, then having a job while in school could allow you to enjoy the luxuries of eating quality food from time to time -- or going to the movies. In other words, having a job during college could allow you to avoid the "broke, starving college student" stereotype.
The decision to work while in college or not work should be made on a case-by-case basis. Some students can thrive in school while working, whereas others can't. Each student must answer: Is missing out on more studying and more social events worth it to cut down on debt, have more money and possibly earn experience and skills toward your career field? More responsibilities, experience and a happy wallet vs. freedom to study and have fun. You may be one of the lucky students who find both possible.
Balancing Work and College, http://www.scholarships.com/resources/campus-life/balancing-work-and-college/
College Students Take Control of Their Financial Futures, August 7, 2013, http://www.citigroup.com/citi/news/2013/130807a.htm
Why You Should Work While in College, Kevin Watts, May 9, 2013, http://www.frugalrules.com/work-while-in-college/
Work While Attending College?, Dave Potts, http://www.youniversitytv.com/news-general/5628-work-while-attending-college