How Working Affects College Students - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1560 Words
Date:  2022-10-26


Acquiring a college education is becoming more and more expensive, and the burden of students' loan is continuously increasing. Most individuals see their parents struggle to pay back huge student loan debts that they accumulated while studying. The thought of having to pay off huge loans after campus scares many students such that they are willing to get employment while studying to avoid huge loans debts when they complete their studies. Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds tend to be more inclined to seek employment to support their education and to some extent assist their families. Other students are just old and go back to school to acquire new sets of skills that would give them an edge in the current market. The employment can be beneficial or disadvantageous to students especially when it comes to time management and their grades. It may also be difficult to transition from working to internships which may not pay well as the employment. This paper will discuss in depth the effects of working while in college and why most of the students are currently inclined to seek employment while in college.

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Working, either part-time or full time consumes time meant for studies and affects the students' academic performance. Employment helps students become self-reliant and reduce dependency on their guardians or parents. It instills a sense of responsibility. Working students build their resumes and learn how to manage their time properly. Working makes individuals more structured and disciplined. With a lot of things to be done, an individual has to focus and plan well to execute his or her responsibilities effectively.

Various studies have found that on-campus part-time jobs are more beneficial to the students' academic life than off-campus jobs. These jobs help students connect with the people in different faculties in a non-academic manner. It also allows for great flexibility to study. Engaging with the faculty and staff is also beneficial especially when it comes to pieces of advice and which produces positive learning outcomes. Students on part-time jobs tend to have better grades than unemployed or those on full-time employment. Research conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found out that student who works less than 20 hours a week had an average of GPA of 3.13 which is higher than the average for nonworking students, 3.04. Individuals working more than 20 hours had much lower grades averaging 2.95 (Ifill et al.). Working more hours consumes a lot of time leaving very little time for studies. The students are also exhausted after work and find it difficult to concentrate on their studies thus the lower grades (Nunez et al, 112).

Individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds tend to shoulder more responsibility when it comes to financing their college education. They often feel pressured to work and tend to work more hours to minimize their loan debt (Soliz et al.). Their studies consequently suffer. They often do not complete their internships, and their dropout rate is quite high. All these happen because the most common jobs available for students are paying minimum wage which even on a full-time basis, cannot adequately cater for yearly college fees. Most of these jobs are in the food service and retail industries. These sectors are the ones that provide flexibility but unfortunately pay minimum wage. Students from well-off families are also finding themselves looking for employment to be self-reliant and help them achieve the experiences needed. The need for experience has been driven by the reluctance of employers to employee college graduates without any experience in a work environment.

The demography of higher education is continually changing. It is no longer white dominated. More and more African Americans, Asians and Hispanics are enrolling for diplomas and college degrees. The traditional college student; young white male from a wealthy family, is a thing of the past. Older individuals are enrolling for retraining to acquire a new set of skills that help them fit in the 21st-century economy that is more technology oriented. The number of women registering for higher education is also constantly rising. The gender gap is widening too in favor of women at about 57% as compared to the 1970s where women were only 40% of the college population. Women are eager to break the stereotype ceiling and are registering in the science and technical fields which had been reserved of men for quite an extended period. There is a great awakening and significant competition in the market for an excellent set of skills irrespective of whether it is a woman or a man who possess them. The 2016 study found that more women, 11.7 million, had enrolled in college in the fall of 2016 (Ifill et al.). Men enrollment was 8.8 million in the same period. Estimates put the numbers down by 2025, but the women are poised to maintain their dominance. The age of those enrolling for college is no longer exclusively the 18-year-olds fresh from high school. A slightly older cohort currently participate in higher education. Their number increased from 4.4 million in 2015 to 4.6 million in 2016 for the age of 24-34 years (Ifill et al.). Enrollment of students aged 35 and above shot to 3.5 million in 2016.

Working students are often busy and shuttle between their work and study such that they do not have time for important programs offered by colleges to help and support them emotionally or psychologically (Darolia, 40). Such services include free counseling and financial advice from counseling department. Most of these students are stressed. The stress causing factors range from poor social support, inability to create a work-life balance, the anxiety associated with the demands of higher education, and poor time management (Prince et al., 6). The students at times find themselves overwhelmed by these demands. They become stressed and anxious and, in most cases, have no time to visit avenues that offer assistance. They also do not adequately participate in co-curriculum activities such as sports and are seem quite detached from social life. Their busy schedules keep them from participating in ordinary activities and only seek assistance when they are psychologically exhausted such that it interferes with their job productivity or their grades (Beiter et al., 94). Some end up dropping out of college due to poor grades and an inability to manage their stress levels.

Few independent students, those who are employed, tend to graduate within six years compared to dependent students. A third of independent students graduate while more than half of their dependent counterparts also graduate. This is usually due to rigid programs that put working students at a disadvantage especially with the lecture schedules. Retention of working students, especially full-time employed students seems to be low. More of these students often transfer from one institution to another in their second semester or drop out altogether due to untenable financial needs (Soliz et al). The pressure is often enormous, and they cannot keep up with work and study demands. Full-time students, unlike their part-time colleagues with employment, spend more time on campus and have better access to support services, including academic advisers. Inability to access such support services due to time-constraints is a contributor to low retention rates seen with employed students.


Working while studying has significant benefits to the students as it allows the students to be self-reliant and earn relevant work experience early. Working students are also not likely to be overburdened with loans after completion of school. They are also more likely to get employment faster than their full-time individual. The experience gained help to shape the work ethic and even redirect an individual's career aspirations. It is clear that more students are attracted to working while studying because it gives them an edge in the work environment once they complete. Care should be taken by students and institutions to ensure that the retention rate is high and individuals complete their diplomas and degrees in time. The institutions have to come up with flexible programs that are beneficial to the working student population while maintaining the quality of education at every level. The higher education institutions must also prepare for the shifting demography of the students' body and put in place infrastructure to handle a more ethnically and age diverse group of students who may have different academic demands. There is also need to find a way to make college affordable so that fewer students take on full-time jobs which greatly interferes with their academic performance and their participation in other beneficial programs that are offered in the institutions of learning.

Work Cited

Beiter, R., et al. "The prevalence and correlates of depression, anxiety, and stress in a sample of college students." Journal of affective disorders 173 (2015): 90-96.

Darolia, Rajeev. "Working (and studying) day and night: Heterogeneous effects of working on the academic performance of full-time and part-time students." Economics of Education Review 38 (2014): 38-50.

Ifill, Nicole, et al. "Persistence and Attainment of 2011-12 First-Time Postsecondary Students after 3 Years. First Look. NCES 2016-401." National Center for Education Statistics (2016).

Nunez, Anne-Marie, and Vanessa A. Sansone. "Earning and learning: Exploring the meaning of work in the experiences of first-generation Latino college students." The Review of Higher Education 40.1 (2016): 91-116.

Prince, Jeffrey P. "University student counseling and mental health in the United States: Trends and challenges." Mental Health & Prevention 3.1-2 (2015): 5-10.

Soliz, Adela, and Bridget Terry Long. "Does Working Help or Hurt College Students? The Effects of Federal Work-Study Participation on Student Outcomes. A CAPSEE Working Paper." Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (2016).

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