Number of working college students on the rise

By Diana Trasatti
November 15, 2007

A tricky, widespread and often over looked issue is affecting more and more students across college campuses. Work. Students now are not only bearing the extensive challenges of being a full time student, attending classes, doing homework and projects and squeezing in a social life. A majority of undergraduates are now adding working up to 20 hours a week on their list of things to do.

A new study conducted by the American Council on Education reported that the number of working undergraduates under the age of 22 has risen to 75 percent, according to U.S News & World Report. Most of the money that these students make goes to tuition and living costs. The remaining students mostly work for a little extra spending money or experience for future jobs.

“I have to work to pay for school. My parents expect me to contribute for college and tuition is definitely not going down,” said sophomore, pre-nursing major Bridget Cantwell.

Every cent that students make is carefully regulated by the government. After students make $3,000.00, their need -based financial aid becomes affected. The amount of expected family contribution then goes up by .50 to the dollar.

The demands of work are apparent on Cabrini College’s campus. Junior Danielle Murphy is not only a triple major, but also works three jobs on campus.

“Sometimes it’s hard when I have a lot of work. It’s hard to balance,” said Murphy, a junior psychology, sociology and religious studies major.

Students usually have the option of working on or off-campus. Each of these options has their perks and drawbacks. Jobs that are off-campus usually pay more, but students then may have to possibly deal with bosses who are not as in tuned to the students educational demands.

Students may also have to deal with the hassles of commuting. These annoyances include fighting traffic, using potential study time on the road and spending more money on gas.

“I just like my job in general, I think it would be easier to have a job on-campus, but I like my job,” Cantwell, who works about 15 hours a week.

Some students opt for work study programs at their school instead. These student’s bosses are usually more understanding of the demands that come with being a full-time undergraduate and working student. These jobs may not pay as well, but students have the convenience of working in close proximity to their classes and dorm rooms. Students also have the option of pocketing the money they make at work study and getting an outside job where they can make up to $3,000.00 without the government interfering with their financial aid.

“Working on campus is definitely convenient,” Murphy said.

The effect on grades is a big factor when being in school and working. The demands are high in both areas. Some students may not be capable of juggling both employment and involvement in undergraduate programs.

“Working definitely affects my grades. On the weekend, I spend possible studying time waiting on tables instead. It’s even harder on weeknights,” said Cantwell.

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the amount of hours students work and the grades they receive. Those who work less then 20 hours a week are found to receive better grades and increase their likeliness of graduation, compared to those who do not work at all.

The best working situation occurs when employees and their bosses can negotiate schedules and when bosses are aware of the school programs that the student is involved in.

Cantwell and Murphy are just two of the many students who work diligently at not only their school work but also at their jobs. With rising tuition costs and high living expenses sometimes work is not an option.

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Diana Trasatti

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