There are many advantages and benefits, but also various challenges of working during college and in this blog, we will discuss some of the of the pros and cons of working your way through college.  The vast majority of college students today do work while attaining their higher education, but their motivations and experiences may vary widely based on demographics which will also be discussed below.  According to most professionals in academic life, there are much fewer cons than pros when it comes to working while in college.

Making Money and Earning an Income:  

Making money is the key factor.

The number one reason to work during college is to make money to help pay your tuition, books, school supplies, rent, and other living expenses while you are completing your higher education.   Whether a student works full-time or part time during college, depending on their economic situation, it brings in a steady income for these expenses.  Some students obtain jobs through their college by way of the Federal Work Study Program or get internships in their field of study, while others may work at any job just to make ends meet. 

Learn Time Management:

Learning time management is a skill that is necessary to be successful throughout the rest of  your life.   Working while taking classes in college teaches you how to manage and prioritize your time.  You can begin developing good habits in time management at the start of a new semester.  Properly learning to organize your class schedule and work hours will help you acquire these skills.  Plan ahead and use the syllabus for each course to coordinate the time needed for your reading and assignments and incorporate that time with the other hours you are working each week.  Some students find they do better in college when they have a job because it means they need to carefully strategize out the week to make time to study.  Learning to manage your time effectively can help you do better overall.   No matter what career or field of work you are preparing to enter after college, you still need to learn how to balance life and adopt good time management.  

Reduce Student Debt and Learn to Manage Finances:

Working during college can help you reduce your student debt and/or avoid making high student loan payments.  Working while in college allows the ability to reduce the cost of tuition bills and student loans as you go along and not collect higher student loan debt.  Students who are working  can pay money towards their tuition fees to help relieve the burden of a higher student loan debt and accumulated interest later on.

Working also helps you to manage your finances.  Having a job while in college promotes budgeting and creating a spending plan for your expenses and earnings.  If you are working and taking an accounting class, then learning to budget your monies will get you ahead of the game of life.  Part of life is keeping personal finances in check and having an earned income teaches you the value of money and how to spend and or save.

Gain Valuable Professional Work Experience:

You can gain valuable work or professional experience while working during college depending on the job or work you do.  Having a job in college is a great way to improve your resume and get ahead of the competition.   Working while pursuing your higher education gives students the opportunity to apply possible concepts learned from your courses with transferable skills to hands-on real-life situations and gain the benefit of a professional experience.  It shows potential employers you already have some real-world experience. Work experience, especially in your field of study, can help you become more competitive once you are ready to enter the full-time job market after college. 

Finding work internships in your field of study can have some positive results.  Some internships can turn from part-time or full-time jobs while you are in college, and then provide you with professional connections to help you land a career job once you finish your degree.

Get Company Benefits and/or Health Insurance

Many jobs and companies may offer benefits to people who work part time.  As discussed above in learning to manage finances, this means you could begin an IRA account or a 401(k).   You may qualify for health insurance or even a tuition assistance program while attending college.  You may also qualify for other benefits such as vacation and sick time, preparing you to understand and then know what benefits to navigate when searching for your career position after college.

Improve Your Grades.

Sometimes getting a job in college can help students improve their grade point average (GPA).  As discusses above in time management, some students realize an improvement in their grades when they begin working and it is generally a result of learning to organize and plan their study time more effectively.  

The amount of time working per week can make a difference in your academic success.  While working can be beneficial, there is only so much time in a day and week to get things done.   There have been various studies done on students working during college.  Some show that students who work part time, less than 15-20 hours a week, have higher GPAs than those students who do not work at all.  But there are also studies that show students who work more than 20 hours per week, can have a lower GPA.   Moderation is the key here and those students who are fortunate enough to only need a part time job during college do better and benefit than those students who are economically challenged and need to work more.

A potential challenge and downfall of working too much while in college is not having enough time each week between work and classes.   This is an issue with those students who are economically depressed and need to work more hours to pay for both their educational costs and living expenses at the same time.  Most of these students generally take longer to obtain their degree with less course schedule each semester so their grades do not take a hit and suffer.  

Meet People Socially and Expand Your Network Professionally

One of the best benefits of working, especially with internships in your field of study, is the ability to build networks of professional mentors and other contacts who may help you later at the start of your career journey after completing your degree.  You never know the people you may meet or the connections you make, who can help you down the line or throughout your career.   Another advantage of working while in college is the opportunity to meet new people socially.   Aside from offering professional networking opportunities, students may discover that on-campus or other part-time jobs can be the best way to meet new friends and other classmates. 

Final Tips to Make Working Your Way Through College Easier

Try to balance your work and school schedule.  Try to find a job with a set schedule as this will make it easier to plan your classes and your study time.  Search for a job in your field of study to get work experience that will benefit you.  Make time for yourself to rest and relax.  Give yourself some “me time” every week to do something you enjoy.   Make time for social time with friends.  It is essential to find the right balance if you are going to work while in college.  

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