Should I Work While I’m in College?

Many students wonder if they should work while they are in college. If you are hesitant to attempt both work and school at the same time, you have good reason. And if someone has sat you down and said matter-of-factly, “You must work while you are in college!” realize that no two scenarios are alike and you need to figure out what combination of work and school will work best for you.

Here are some thoughts to consider:

Part-Time vs. Full-Time

If you are going to school part-time, you will likely have time for a part-time job, and maybe even a full-time job. Many full-time professionals go to school part-time. Some full-time workers even manage full-time school, but they are few and far between and they have no social life. If you are thinking about trying full-time school and full-time work, realize that one or the other is going to suffer. Your boss might not be happy that you stayed up all night the night before studying. Or, your test results might reflect that you didn’t study the day before because you had to work.

Financial Help

Some students think they have to work while they are in school in order to pay the bills. This may be true. But realize there is also financial help out there. You can use student loans to pay for groceries while you are in school. You can also eat Ramen Noodles.

What Degree Are You Seeking?

In a perfect world, all degrees would be equally difficult to obtain and take an equal amount of time and effort to earn. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. Some degrees do indeed take a lot more time and work than others. If you have the privilege of being enrolled in an academically rigorous degree program, you really may not want to add a job to your workload. And if you find that you don’t really need to study in order to ace your courses, maybe you do have time for a job. Or maybe you have time to find a more challenging degree program.

What Job Are You Seeking?

Not all jobs are created equally. Some jobs offer benefits beyond the paycheck. And some do not.

Some people will tell you that having a job while you are in college will look good on your resume. This isn’t necessarily true. If you work in your field and gain real-world experience, then that will look fabulous on your resume. But if your burger joint job turns your 3.7 GPA into a 2.7, then resume reviewers aren’t going to be terrifically impressed.

The same goes for networking. If you are able to work in your field, you may be able to make some important connections that will serve you in the future. But not all jobs will provide valuable connections.

What job do you want to have? What job can you get? And will it be worth it?

Online Students May (or May Not) Have Time

Online students have more flexible schedules, and as a result, can often make time to have a job. But even online students don’t have a magic wand. If you’re an online student balancing a family and social life, don’t assume you’ll have extra time to spend working.

Other Factors

There are other factors besides money and academics. Having a job offers you an additional social circle. In fact, for online students, having a job may offer you your only social circle. Some online students rarely leave the house. A job may give them a reason to do so.

Having a job may also give you a break from the school grind. Some students appreciate a job that forces them to get up from their desks and exert some physical effort. On the flipside of that: if you want to engage in extracurricular activities, you probably won’t have time if you have a job.

In Short: Should You Work While in School?

The short answer to this common question is: I have no idea. Only you can figure this out. But remember that you are paying for college. You should get what you can out of it. You can work for the rest of your life. You won’t be in college forever (we hope).

What are your thoughts about working while going to college? Have you attempted to work while in college? How did that work out for you?

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