Should You Work While in College?

According to a study done by Georgetown University, 70 percent of college students work at least part-time while getting a bachelor’s degree. But for some students, working part- or full-time during the school year can spell trouble for their grades and make it hard to keep up with their classes. There are many pros and cons to holding a job during college, so that has to be something you discuss with your financial aid office and consider when planning your college budget. Here are some things to consider when you’re deciding whether to work while you’re in school.

Do you need the money?

Most college students do not have much disposable income, which can certainly put a cramp in your style. But a job is a big commitment, so you should carefully consider whether you actually need the money you would bring in. You don’t want to miss out on the fun and exciting things a college environment can offer because of work, especially if you don’t to. So if you can get by without a job, save the time and energy for other things.

Do you have enough time?

While you are in school, your studies should be your priority. In order to fully take advantage of your education, you need to have enough time to complete your work and study to pass exams. All the money you’re spending on tuition, books and more will be wasted if you don’t come out of school with a deep knowledge of your field of study, and that only comes from focusing on your material and taking advantage of everything your school has to offer. If you have time in your schedule to work, that’s great. Otherwise, you’re better off looking for another way to get some extra money, whether that’s reducing your expenses or increasing your loan amounts.

What options are available to you?

If you have the option, a job that’s related to your field of study is always going to be better for your resume than anything else. A science major who has experience working in a laboratory will have a more compelling resume than one who only has classroom knowledge. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t find a position in your field. But if you’re going to be working anyway, it’s worth the extra effort to find something that can pay off now and later. The best tools to find a job that can help you are going to be events and websites held by people in your college community, like a part-time job fair or a webpage run by your school’s guidance office. You can also ask your professors if they know of a good organization that could use an undergraduate’s help!

Is the job worth it?

It might seem like a job is a good idea for you, but consider whether it’s even worth it. If you’re paying more than you are making for things like transportation, childcare or certifications for your job, you might not actually be getting anything it. Take the time to work out what a budget looks like for you, and include things like gas money or a bus pass, uniform and laundry costs, and anything else you have to pay for in order to do your job. This will help you see if a job is actually benefiting you.

Is the job a scam?

A job you don’t have to be in an office for might sound great, but the options that allow you to work from home can be very dubious. There can be a much greater potential for scams and abuse in jobs without an office location, because all a company really needs is a cheap website to take advantage of people who don’t do their homework. If you have your doubts about a company, you should look at the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and Fraud.org to find out if there have been any complaints. You should also ask your interviewer detailed questions about the role, and about how and when you will be compensated. One thing to remember is you should never have to pay in order to work for a company, so if they ask you for money, it is probably a scam.

Holding a job while you’re studying is not an easy option, but it might make things easier when it comes time to pay the bills. Ultimately, the choice is up to you and anyone helping to support you while you’re in college. For more information on the possible pros and cons, and other ways to pay for school, visit CFNC’s pay microsite.