Today: Jun 25, 2024

To work or not to work?

Carissa DuhamelCopy Editor

If high school seniors relied on Hollywood to accurately predict the experiences they could expect to have in college, their concept of student life would closely mimic that of an adult sleep-away camp with a slight stress on academics. Actual college seniors, on the other hand, might choose to depict their own reality through a slightly different lens.

A study held by the National Center for Education Statistics, recorded that in the year 1995 of all college students in the United States between the ages of 16 and 24 attending school full-time, 47% also worked. Among these employed students, 27% of them worked 20 hours or more each week. This figure is up since the time our parents were in college – in the year 1970 only 34% of full time students also generated salaries, and of those 34% only 14% of them worked a minimum of 20 hours. This changed trend may reflect the heightened cost of university enrollment, which has increased at a greater rate than that of economic inflation each year since 1975, according to figures compiled by website Best Colleges Online. Students are forced to seek employment while pursuing their educations in an attempt to keep up, pushing the “Animal House” portrayal of college into cerebral archives of the middle-aged.

Students struggle with doing well in school while having a job during college.
Students struggle with doing well in school while having a job during college.

University students today are posed with the philosophical question of whether or not this shift towards simultaneous education and employment is beneficial or detrimental to their college careers. To current SCSU senior and part-time member of the workforce Valon Kica, the answer is clear. “A part of college is about going out and enjoying your time, but how are you going to do that without money? I’d hate to use my parents’ money for alcohol and things of that nature, so yes [it’s good to be] working and having some money for yourself. Besides that, it helps me personally become a little better at managing my time. Because there is so much to do, I feel obligated to do it all and get it done efficiently.”

Certain studies reflect Kica’s sentiments. Research done jointly by Ohio University and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that freshmen at four-year colleges that worked no more than 20 hours per week had an average GPA of 3.13. Which is then compared to an average GPA of 3.04 among students that didn’t work at all.

On the converse, the same study found that freshmen that worked more than 20 hours a week earned an average GPA of only 2.95. This statistic adds a wrench into the consideration of whether or not to work during college.

Senior Dominique Pustay reflects on the difficulty of maintaining the balance between education and employment, “If you can handle it, then do it. It’s stressful but it forces you to strive to be the best you can be in both aspects [of your life] for the sheer fact that you have no other choice but to do the best or do nothing at all. I can’t recommend getting a job during college for everyone because if you’re not going to put 100% into it, whether it be for school or the job, then its not worth it.”

In this question of whether to work students are truly left with a matter of self-reflection: What kind of person am I? What is my situation, do I need to work? Can I handle it? What are my priorities at this time in my life? If after asking these questions of yourself you find that maintaining multiple stressors is something that you are capable of and the profits (both financially and learned skills-wise) outweigh the detriments, then beefing up your resume and entering the part-time workforce may be the answer for you.

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