Does Working Part-Time Prepare You for the Real World?

In 2011, 19.7 million students were enrolled in undergraduate college, 72 percent of which held jobs as well, according to the United States Census Bureau report. Working a job while in college can be seen as beneficial as well as harmful to a student’s education.

Having a job while in college can prevent students from completing school work, however it can also assist students in time management skills, gaining real life experience, and improving grades, as studies have shown.

“I work 7.5 hours a week for the Phonathon of the Annual Fund at school, but I should work more hours,” Stephanie Rodriguez, junior, said. “A benefit to working while in college is gaining independence, but sometimes it gets in the way of schoolwork because people are too caught up in making money rather than getting an education.”

Patrick O’Halloran, economics professor and Academic Standards and Review Committee (ASRC) member, explained that the type of job obtained and the student’s personal situation determines whether the job is necessary.

“Many have to work to help support themselves or family members. However, if one works so much that they cannot finish school they will likely have to take fewer classes per semester and take longer to graduate than someone who does not work and can take more credits per semester,” said O’Halloran.

Serving on the ASRC, O’Halloran often deals with students falling behind due to overcompensating one’s self to work rather than complete homework. He explains, “We usually limit those readmitted from dismissal to only 12 credits per semester as long as they are on probation and encourage them to work less hours per week.”

Each student is different than the next, what one student may be capable of can differ tremendously from what another student can accomplish. “I have worked all throughout my life and I am accustomed to managing my time around working. I know that this is not true for all. I have friends that work only a few hours while in college because they know their grades will suffer,” Alysha Zimmerman, sophomore business major, said.

In many ways, a job can be beneficial for college students. While in college, a job can often lead students to excel in academics, gain new contacts, recognize a new interest or learn skills that will prepare them for future employment. “If the student is working in the field he/she is interested in working after graduation then the benefits of working during school may be multiplied,” Robert Scott, economics professor, said.

Dorothy Clearly, Director of Tutoring and Writing Services, explains that a part-time job in college is an excellent opportunity for students. “Besides making some money to help with daily living expenses, I think it teaches students time management skills, responsibility, helps to develop learning how to be part of a team, and in some cases offers students a chance to apply some of what they are learning in the classroom to the real world.”

“Working at [Writing Services] was not only advantageous to my undergraduate career, but also seriously prepared me for law school and for a career in which excellent writing and communication skills are essential,” said alumnus Lindsey Melody, “My experience as a tutor has impressed employers, and my time with [Writing Services] is one of my fondest college memories.”

As of Friday, February 22, the University Student Employment Department reported to have 1,229 students placed in 1,628 jobs on-campus and off-campus at non-profit agencies. This does not include students jobs not affiliated with the University.

According to Aimee Parks, Assistant Director of Human Resources for Student Employment, the average freshman works eight to ten hours per week. Full-time undergraduate students and all international students are limited to work a maximum of 20 hours per week and part-time students are allowed to work a part-time reduced schedule.

While working on-campus jobs, University students are paid between $7.50 to $10.25 per hour. The majority are paid between $7.50 and $9.00 an hour, explained Parks.

“As we all know, time is a scarce commodity. If we spend more time on one activity (part-time work), that necessarily means less time available for a different activity (taking more credits per semester),” O’Halloran said. Therefore, students must choose wisely where they want to spend their time during their college years.

PHOTO COURTESY of Angela Ciroalo