I was recently talking to my sister, and she was saying that she doesn’t want to get a job in college. While she needs the money, she thinks she won’t be able to succeed academically if she has to work. Actually, as it turns out, her university discourages first year students from getting jobs. This got me thinking, should college students get jobs during the school year? If so, how much should they work?
Balancing school and work is definitely a challenge. Depending on if your semesters or quarters, you could be in three to six classes (sometimes more). Depending on the difficulty of classes, and how long they are, that leaves even more time devoted to school. With homework, any extra curricular activities (clubs, organizations, etc.), and basic day-to-day college living, getting a job can seem like it will never work with your schedule. I think that most students have the ability to maintain a job and still succeed in school. Getting campus jobs or jobs where many other college students work is a great idea. These types of jobs will offer flexibility in scheduling and have managers who are more understanding of the other demands on a student.
However, it is also important to consider the fact that grades may affect scholarships. If the tradeoff between having a job and studying is a loss of a scholarship, then it will probably be significantly more economical to not get a job. For the majority of students, I would suggest getting settled into college, and then trying a job. Work can bring in a lot of extra cash that is always useful.
How many hours a week you work is up to you. “Experts” say that anywhere from 15-20 hours a week is very manageable in college. Obviously, it depends on the job you have, but I’d recommend 15 hours a week as well. If you start working more than 25 hours a week (which some people do), you may notice your grades start to slip. Once again, the extra money is great, but if you work too much, those grades will fall, and any scholarships you may have could be in jeopardy. Don’t forget the potential damage you could do to your GPA, which may cause someone to not hire you when you graduate.
Overall, I think it’s a great idea to have a job in college. If you are one of the lucky few who doesn’t need a job, consider getting one just for some extra change and to meet new people. Work experience is always useful. If you are nervous about getting a job, but need the money, you should take it slow. Explain the importance of your grades and limit yourself to only working a certain number of hours a week. If you gradually increase it, you’ll make more money, and you can see how much work is comfortable for you. So, the answer to the question “should I get a job in college” is, “Yes, if you think you can handle it.”