To work or not to work?

by William Lewandowski

lewandowwi@mnstate.edu

College students constantly face the issue of finances. There’s financial aid, loans, social lives, books and supplies, gas, car repairs and food, and all of this requires money. But is it worth it to have a job and be a full-time student?

Being a full-time student in itself is like having a full-time job. Go to classes throughout the day, go home or to the library and study for another set of hours, then do it again the next day. Adding a part-time job to that is like adding another 20 hours to a 40 hour work week.

Adding a part-time job can be daunting. It’s emotionally, as well as physically, draining. Take it from a student who has three jobs, aside from being a full-time student.

I, along with being a student, write for the Advocate, work at a gas station and am a part-time substitute in the Fargo Public Schools. I take 18 credits at school, well over the full-time mark for a student. These credits add up to 22 hours of class, and after adding around 20 to 25 hours of work, I am doing around 42 hours of work each week. Then you add studying and bump that number to around 55 hours. I’m not saying it’s terrible or impossible, but it becomes a deep rut.

Working and getting a paycheck every other Friday is nice because it gives you a boost of money for supplies and food, it gives the possibility of going out with friends and having the gas to drive yourself places. Also, getting a paycheck gives a sense of accomplishment and reward.

Unfortunately though, working takes away the free time to do fun stuff with friends and more importantly, takes away from study time. Juggling work with school, studying and a social life, plus trying to find time to sleep and eat in between, can be overwhelming. Things get compromised when all this needs to happen. Most commonly, sleep is the first to go, and secondly, going to class.

According to a university studies class, most students will put work before school because they are afraid of losing that source of income. Students don’t realize when they skip classes to go to work they are losing money in the long run.

“Every second of class costs money,” an old high school chemistry teacher advised me a few weeks ago. “If you calculate how much each minute of class costs, you will see that skipping class to work is not worth it.”

It’s true. Missing one day of class to work is not worth it. It costs more to miss class than it does to earn money at work.

A great professor of mine told me, “College is the only time in your life where you can afford to be broke.”

This holds true as well. If a student were to live on campus, they get a meal plan and housing, which is all included in tuition and fees. Financial aid can cover most of this, if it doesn’t cover it all, and having money saved from a summer job will benefit.

Having a job during the school year is beneficial when it comes to having extra spending cash, but if it starts to compromise school, studying and the quality of academic performance, it becomes a risk more than a benefit. Which is more important: school and studying which is costing you around $7,000 a semester or work that is paying you $200 a week?

If you need a job because of supplies, food and so on, look at Dragon Jobs and see if there is anything on campus to apply for. Campus jobs are known for being flexible with student schedules.

If you must go for that burger flipping job at McDonalds, make sure it works with your schedule. Also, when interviewing for a job off-campus, be sure to mention that you are a dedicated student and that school comes first. Employers will understand and see you as a committed,  hard worker who has their priorities straight.

One more thing that will benefit if you work and go to school, or want to, is to budget. Budget time and budget money. Have time for friends and family, time for yourself and time for work, and don’t forget to sleep and eat well. Budget money so you don’t have to work as much, and be able to make it to your next paycheck without running out.

The most important thing is  school comes first.

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