Should I Work While Going to College?

Many students ask whether it’s a good or bad idea to hold down a job while attending college. Surprisingly many people decide to quit their jobs the moment school begins, with the reason most often given is that they need to focus on their studies.  Others decide to keep their job, only taking shifts on the weekend and one or two evenings during the week. While working through college may interfere with some people’s academic progress, for most people there are many benefits to working part-time. 

You’ll have extra cash

Everyone’s financial situation is different. Some people need to earn money while they’re attending school, and some don’t. But wherever you fall on that spectrum, having more money in your pocket is always a good thing! You’ll need school supplies, you’ll want to have nights out with friends, or even just have extra spending money.  If you’re using student loans to pay for tuition, it can also help you reduce the amount you’ll have to apply for, and remember, student loans have to be paid back.  It’s not free money.

It requires time management, but it is a skill employers look for

Getting a job that works with your class schedule can be tough, and you should never have to choose between attending class and going to work. This doesn’t make holding a job impossible, but it does require some time management and scheduling considerations. You need to consider how many shifts you can take and how many hours you can work before it begins to impact your studies. Many students who have done it successfully suggest 15-20 hours per week is the recommended limit although there are exceptions.

There’s going to be a bit of a struggle as you get your schedule sorted out, but that’s life.  Learning to handle multiple commitments while you’re still in school, can benefit you in the long run, especially when you graduate and during an interview you are asked those dreaded questions such as “what time management skills do you have?” or “tell us a time when you had to manage a busy schedule?”  Learning to balance your time is a very important life skill, and if you can pull it off, you’ll be stronger for it. 

Relevant experience

Your part time job could be related to your career field.  If it can go on your resume as relevant experience, you’re going to separate yourself from the pack.  Most employers do not put a lot of weight on your GPA.  Clearly, to graduate you had to have the fundamental knowledge. The fact that you have the credential merely demonstrates that you have accomplished some academic outcomes, but it's only part of the overall picture of who you are.  Even if you don’t get a career related part time job, there’s a ton of experience to be had in any job involving teamwork and responsibility.  It will be easier to get a career position when you’re graduating with a solid work history.

It’s all about priorities and responsibility

There are challenges and advantages to holding down a job while in college. It depends on your needs and on what you prioritize, be it education, life experience or financial wellbeing. They’re all important and while there are different paths you can take, it’s best to make an informed decision and not just assume quitting is the best choice.