Money. It’s something we all wish we had more of but, like our parents tell us: money doesn’t grow on trees. An increasing number of college students are finding this out as more and more of them struggle to find ways to pay for school and monthly bills, and still have some cash left over for the weekends.
Juggling both a full load of classes and a job can be tricky, but many students are finding that it is a necessity.
Madhia Jamil, a senior at George Mason University, has been working and taking a full course load for the past three years. She began working part time but recently started putting in 40 hours a week at her job in addition to school.
“Having a job allows me to pay for tuition” said Jamil. “It also lets me support myself and have money to pay for extra expenses.”
A recent article in USA Today states that about 77 percent of undergraduates at four-year colleges have jobs and that about 26 percent of students work full time while in school.
“It’s a challenge to juggle it all,” said Jamil. “But once it’s all done I won’t have to worry about loans or put my parents under any strain over money.”
Why do so many students need to work while in school? Well, there are several reasons, the main one being a decline in financial aid and a rise in tuition. Due to budget constraints many states have had to cut their spending on college aid, leaving students and their parents to shoulder the burden. In order to deal with financial problems of their own, many states have had to raise college and university tuition costs.
Another major financial problem students face is increasing credit card debt. According to USA Today, the average college student’s credit card balance is $2,327, with 21 percent of college students having balances between $3,000 and $7,000.
“One of the main reasons I worked while going to school was for financial reasons,” said Gina Jamaldinian, a recent graduate from George Mason University. “Basically, I needed to pay off my bills.”
The main challenge students face is figuring out how to juggle both work and school.
“Doing both doesn’t leave you much time to study,” said Jamil. “I usually get most of my homework and studying done on the weekends.”
Studies have shown though that students who work 15 hours or less a week usually get higher grades and learn important skills such as time management, organization, and office etiquette that will benefit them in the work force.
“I actually do better in school when I work,” said Jamaldinian. “It kind of forces me to prioritize and concentrate on what’s important.”
“I’ve learned to work under pressure,” said Jamil. “You definitely become more responsible and gain good work experience that will help you once school is over.”
Even though working and going to school is a challenge, many students benefit from the experience and go on to thrive in their post-college careers.
“It’ll be a relief once I graduate,” said Jamil. “But at the same time, it’ll be satisfying to know that I’m capable of doing both at one time and that I paid for it all on my own.”
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