By McKayla Kovach ’21 Management Major
Being a full-time student at college is a job within itself. Some students are able to supplement school with a part-time or full-time job while others may find that too challenging. What is it like to balance work and school? How do students who do not work spend their extra time?
Working a part or full-time job introduces students to skill sets that are essential for post-graduation work, such as prioritization skills, money management skills and time management skills.
Austin Boehlert ‘21, an Accounting major at St. John Fisher College, also works a part-time job at Wegmans Food Markets where he is on the clock for about 30 hours a week. Sara Andrews ‘21 is a Nursing major at Duquesne University who focuses solely on school and does not work a job while attending school. Both students spend about two to three hours a day on school related work outside of class time.
“As a nursing major, I spend a lot of time studying and I feel like I would not focus as much [on school] if I had a job,” Andrews said. In her free time, Andrews focuses on socializing with friends and participating in various clubs that she is a part of. When asked if deciding to work a job has any relation to a student’s major, Andrews believes that major plays a significant role in that decision. Some majors, such as nursing, require a great deal of studying and memorization whereas other majors may allow for more free time.
Director of Career Services at St. John Fisher College, Dr. Julia Overton-Healy, “strategically creates opportunities for students so that they can move successfully into their lives after college.” With this, Dr. Overton-Healy estimates that “close to 85% of students are working at some type of job.” Whether the job be per diem, on call, remote project-based or internships, all types of jobs involve balancing multiple responsibilities at once.
“At some points it’s challenging. Obviously, the school semester has some challenging weeks with tests all coming up on the same days,” said Boehlert. It can be difficult to separate work from school especially when there are projects, tests and homework deadlines that interfere with work schedules. The days off where there is neither work nor school come few and far between, but it is all worth it in the end.
Working a job outside of school has its advantages and disadvantages. Of course, you will be earning money and gaining knowledge and experience, but there is a price to be paid. Added stress, little free time and self-discipline are some of the hardships to be faced when taking on this extra role. As Dr. Overton-Healy put it, “it’s about balancing where your priorities go.” Some students may fear that their grades may decline if they take on a job and have less available time to focus on school. It is important to keep in mind that GPA is not always a true indication of the potential quality of an employee or student. While grades are of high importance, they are not the only things that matter; work experience can be just as valuable if not more valuable than being a straight A student throughout college.
In contrast, there are many students that do not have a choice between working and not. Some would view it as a luxury to be able to choose, but they depend on their jobs to help pay student bills or to put food on the table, whereas many others pick up a job as a way to spend their spare time or to earn some extra spending money.
For those questioning whether or not to work a job while attending school, Boehlert said, “I think working during school is definitely something that you should consider, whether it’s five hours a week, ten hours a week or thirty hours a week.”