Plan For College

Friday, March 21, 2014

5 Reasons Your Student Should Get a Part-Time Job in College

At college a student’s primary job is to be just that—a student. But is it too stressful to add a part-time job to their workload? This can certainly depend on your student’s age (maybe it’s not ideal for an overwhelmed freshman versus an experienced upperclassman) and program of study, but having a part-time job can be a very good thing.

“Recent research has shown that working 20 hours or less each week during college actually has several benefits, including increased leadership and time management skills. The same research, based on findings from the National Survey of Student Engagement, found that grades earned by students working 20 hours or less were consistent with the grades of full-time students not working at all.” (Source)

Here are 5 reasons why your student should have a part-time job in college:

1. Extra Money. There’s no doubt about it, college is expensive. The non-profit Project on Student Debt reports that 71% of college seniors who graduated in 2012 had student loan debt, with an average of $29,400 per borrower. From 2008 to 2012, debt at graduation (federal and private loans combined) increased an average of 6% each year. (Source)

That amount of debt is quite a burden to bear when you’re starting your career and adult life! Not only will having a part-time job help lower that debt, but it will teach your student the value of money.  Part of being independent is learning how to budget, and having a job can be a great start to that life lesson.

2. Time Management. Being out on your own means you have complete control over your own schedule—for most students, this is a new experience. Having a part-time job will require that students carefully structure their time. Scheduling responsibilities like studying and a job doesn’t mean extra-curriculars will be cut out. It simply means that your student will have to achieve a balance, which is the valuable skill of time management.

3. Experience. It no secret that the job market is extremely competitive, so your student can use their part-time job to prepare for the work force. Even if their job isn’t aligned with the field they’re studying, they will be gaining valuable experience—learning how to interview, work with others, build a resume, etc—that will help them get a leg up on their peers.

4. Connections. The old saying “It’s about about who you know” rings more true than ever in today’s job market. Most people get jobs through their connections, rather than online searches. Your student’s part-time job will start building a network from which (s)he can tap into upon graduation. (Or even prior to graduation for an internship!)

5. Responsibility. As a parent, sometimes it’s hard to realize that you have a child that’s old enough to be in college. You may see that mischievous 5-year-old in your mind’s eye, but your student is on the verge of adulthood! Having to do your own laundry and grocery shopping is one thing, but being truly independent is having a reward for your efforts. A part-time job will do exactly that—teaching your student responsibility and giving them a sense of independence that will be crucial for their development.

Whether or not to get a part-time job in college is a discussion you should have with your student, and it should be on-going. If it’s necessary to scale back on hours or shift priorities during the school year, talk to them and support them. Just don’t automatically discount the idea that your student can study hard, enjoy time with friends, AND hold down a great part-time job!

Note: Many students and parents advise to find an on-campus job that’s affiliated with the university. They usually pay the best, are easy to get to, offer flexible scheduling, and close down during all of the holidays/breaks. 



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