A recent study by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute has shown that almost 50 percent of freshmen planned to work their way through college to pay for expenses.
Working undoubtedly adds more commitments to a schedule already filled with classes and exams, but it’s a sign of maturity.
Handling finances and taking responsibility is a rite of passage that prepares students for the world awaiting them after graduation.
It also means that students have to learn time management skills to balance their activities in and out of the classroom. While a college degree should be a higher priority than a full-time or part-time job, if the work presents an opportunity to apply the skills students are learning in the classroom, then another dimension is added to the work experience. It would be easier if students did not have to work while they get their degree, but doing so presents new opportunities and proves to future employers that the person can handle different responsibilities and multitask.
Whether the job is work-study or off-campus, there are different reasons why students are heading back into the workforce before they walk across the stage to get their diplomas. Many are working to pay off student loans or credit card debt as the economy tightens its belt. Some students are going to school while holding down a job and raising a family, ensuring a better future for themselves and their children. One thing that unites them is that they are working toward a degree and maintaining a self-sufficient lifestyle by working to pay off their expenses.
Features editor Chance Welch for the editorial board.