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Planning on Working Your Way Through School?

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Planning on Working Your Way Through School?

Planning On Working Your Way Through School?

As the end of another senior year of high school approaches there are many exciting things going on in the life of the soon-to-be high school graduates- prom, end of school parties, moving out, and going to college. Many students by the time they graduate have already sent in applications to universities and have been accepted into their program; many move away from home, some with their friends and some without, ready to test themselves and experience the newness of college life. The negotiations for how their college experience will be funded have been worked out, some not paying a dime, others will pay for some of their schooling, and others will pay all of it. Many these freshmen will be looking for jobs as they get up to school, trying to fit them into their already busy schedules as they adapt to their new life.

The scene just described sounds very typical in America. In fact, some people would say that it is the american dream- move out, become educated, provide for yourself, and make own way in the world. While this may bring excitement to the freshmen and a nostalgic feeling of their past to the parents, care should be taken about how these college students go about getting their education. Many of these students will get jobs- some one campus, others off campus, some working many long hours to make ends meet. But are all those long hours working a job really helping the students get a better education, or hurting it?

-Why We Work-

Working while going to college has been around for a long time, but the trend for students to work while going to school has also grown over time. In fact the amount of working students has doubled since the 1960’s until the year 2000 as figure one shows.(Tuttle, McKinney, Rago, 2005). Much of this growth is because what college has to offer has changed. As more and more people decide to go to college the needs of college students have expanded and diversified. Where college used to only be a place of learning, it now is a place of sporting events, movies, plays, clubs, and many other events that make up the modern college experience. All these additions cost more money, and the cost of tuition is increasing faster than the increase in inflation (Shelton, 1995). So many students have to find somewhere to get the extra money. Students are looking more for jobs and working longer hours. While working is important for many students, care should be taken to not let your job get in the way of your school. Students found to be working over 20 hours a week tend to have less interaction with teachers and other students, and also tend to have lower GPA’s, and have to compromise on choices of classes to take. (Lundeburg, 2004. Cheng, 2004). Students who were found working 20 or more hours were also found to generally be working off campus. But interestingly enough those who worked on campus or had 15 hours of work or less had more interaction with teachers and students and had higher GPA’s (Tuttle, 2005).

-Making Ends Meet-

The problem for many people going to college is that they simply cannot support themselves on a 15 hour or less job. Many who are struggling with this are people who have come from low income households and do not get as much support from their families for their schooling. This is a can be a serious problem, as figure 2 shows.

Students who come from lower income homes have much more to worry about financially then those students from middle or upper class homes; a great number of them feel that all they can do to help their financial is get a job. Loans are a hassle, and you just have to work them off later on; and grants aren’t attainable; many of them not even knowing what a grant is other then a boy’s name. The feeling is that there are no other options for them other then to work all day, come home bleary-eyed and tired from washing dishes at a restaurant, and try to study for tomorrow’s exam while fighting exhaustion when a roommate asks them if they want to watch a movie. They have less time to do the things that other students do. Often times they will end up dropping classes so that they can maintain their hours at work lengthening their stay at school, if they don’t just drop out. While working gives obvious benefits such as job experience, networking avenues, leadership training, and interpersonal communication skills, we should be

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