"Twenty-three percent of full-time undergrads, who are 24 or younger, work 20 hours or more a week." So says Lynn O'Shaughnessy in "Surprising Statistics About College Students" posted in October on thecollegesolution.com. That means almost a quarter of all young college undergraduates are working at least part time. Why? Mainly because tuition, books and everything else is more expensive than it was just a few years ago. Yet, holding down a job and trying to carry a full load of classes can be risky. Most young people have little to no work experience and the transition from high school to college carries many adjustments without adding the extra burden of a job. If you are considering working while going to college, here are some pros and cons to consider:
1. A job can help with the costs (books, tuition, fees, dorm or apartment rent, etc.), and you may have a little extra change in your pockets for some special goodies or events.
2. You may be able to put a few dollars away for an emergency or to help out your family if necessary.
3. You'll learn how to deal with many types of people, how to be a responsible employee, how to deal with stressful situations and how to handle money.
4. Your supervisors may be good mentors for now and in the future.
5. Choosing a job related to your major can give you early, from-the-ground-up experience in your field.
6. You will make contacts (fellow workers and supervisors) who can become part of your network at graduation time and later.
1. Your stress level will go up. You'll have to juggle your schoolwork, personal time and your job.
2. You'll have to protect your health and find ways to get enough rest.
3. You may find yourself resenting the free time and less stress your nonworking friends seem to enjoy.
4. You may lose your job through no fault of your own. What then?
5. As part of your course requirement, you may have to volunteer or work for no to very low pay to get hands-on experience. Majors such as journalism, medicine and law enforcement often have this requirement. Can you juggle this plus a regular job and your course work?
6. Your college or your individual instructors may press you not to work so you can devote more time to their course work.
On-campus jobs, especially those associated with your major, can be less stressful. A paid assistantship in your major field or a paid internship related to your major or minor may be a good alternative. A clerical position in an academic department may be a solution. And creating your own job (babysitting, delivery service, concierge service, etc.) could also be an answer.
Marie Stempinski is the founder and president of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing, business development and employee motivation consulting. She can be reached at email@example.com or through her website: www.howtomotivateemployees.org.