Point/Counterpoint: Working as a student

The benefits of working while learning

Audra Goforth
Audra Goforth
News Staff Writer
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During college, professors constantly tell us to be students first. While I strongly agree with that statement, I do believe students must consider their other roles and functions in addition to school. Having a job in college makes for a healthy experience. According to a study by Georgetown University, Learning While Earning: The New Normal 2015,  more than 70 percent of students in college work between 10 and 30 hours a week. This means about three out of every four classmates have a job, some having multiple jobs.
I have noticed several benefits resulting from working while going to school, one being the idea of balancing and prioritizing life events. College revolves around growth, a time to find yourself and what would be a better way to accomplish this than by learning what you can and cannot handle? Maybe working 25 hours a week while taking 17 credit hours feels like too much, or maybe it is the perfect amount.
Working while being a student provides a building block for a resume. After working while attending school, you have then created a few solid references and your first job will not be as shaky of an experience. Students who work during college usually understand the importance and structure of balancing money. It provides an insight of the “adulting” experience.
While I personally enjoy working and going to school, I know and respect the idea that not everyone enjoys working and some would rather not carry the commitment of being a student and an employee. Some students feel obligated to work knowing that in order to fulfill their basic needs they need to supply the funds. With this being the most common reason for student employment, I view it as extremely valid and indeed respectable.
I relate to the students who have no other resource for funds except through means of employment. On the other hand, some students work just for the experience. Working for experience is respectable because some students value the idea of learning to depend on themselves, which everyone will eventually need to do.
I personally worked two jobs and babysat regularly in high school because I needed money for gas, clothes, food and leisure. I learned several life skills due to working in high school which allows me to handle three jobs while attending UNCA, in addition to my studies and other commitments. Having a job in college definitely provides a worthwhile experience to myself and to other students.

Why working in college isn’t the best idea

Madeleine Boone
Madeleine Boone
Layout Staff
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I understand for some a job is a necessity in order to attend college and pay for books, housing, food, etc. But if other opportunities present themselves to fund your education outside of working one or multiple jobs, those a should be taken advantage of.  Most people are not willing to take the financial beating that Sallie Mae provides, but student loans are not the only option. Applying for national grants or local grants can make a difference that does not require exorbitant amounts of debt or working while in school. Institutions such as AmeriCorps, Peace Corp, National Health Services Corps and ROTC programs offer payment for college in exchange for services. Not only do you avoid going into debt, but service through these programs looks very good on a resume.
According to BBVA Compass, working while in school causes students to run the risk of getting behind in school work. Especially in work intensive majors such as chemistry or engineering, where good grades are paramount to getting those summer internships that get you into graduate programs and post-graduate jobs. Internships related to the career field you want to go into are more important than some general minimum wage job that will not necessarily impress potential employers.
Working while in school also denies you the “college experience,” as well as sleep. While the feeling of independence from your family is nice, working while in school runs the risk of putting you in a rut. The typical day consists exclusively of class, then work, then homework. Humans are social creatures and socializing is a very important part of college. In fact, taking a break and hanging out with friends is what keeps most people sane. Long work weeks coupled with schoolwork does not leave much room to de-stress, which is not healthy. Not only is there no leisure time, there is not any time for sleeping either. College students already have notoriously bad sleeping habits and balancing the demands from an employer and several professors will likely result in only a few hours of sleep each night.
Students who work while in school also have a higher risk of dropping out. It is difficult to balance demanding professors and demanding employers and some are forced to choose between the two. In the short term having a job may sound like a good idea, but unless you are part of a lucky few, a job can only take you so far. An education is an investment and can open more doors for things you are passionate about.
I completely support having a job in college if all other options are exhausted and you have no other choice. But as someone who worked during a semester, I prefer having my education be the only thing on my plate and still be able to sleep and socialize as well as get things done. I think sticking with working during the summer is a better option.