While searching for a job may be the last thing on an incoming college student’s mind, one expert claimed that waiting may cost that student the possibility of employment. According to Don Vince, associate director of financial aid at the University of Dayton, incoming college students should avoid taking time to settle in before finding a job.
"Most first-years want to shut down and do nothing, and that’s very detrimental," said Vince. "These kids are going to have more free time on their hands then they’ve ever had before. Getting a job is a great way for some of them to develop a sort of rhythm in their lives."
Student employment on and around a college campus generally falls into one of two categories, Vince said. The first type is on-campus employment, when the student is on the school’s payroll.
Matthias Wissmann, a senior at the University of Dayton, has been an on-campus employee for almost eight semesters. According to him, there are many advantages to on-campus employment.
"The biggest advantage of on-campus employment is that you get the luxury of scheduling your job around your free time," said Wissmann.
He also claimed the actual type of employment isn’t as important as many people might think.
"Mainly it just helps cover the cost of living," he said. "You won’t work that many hours, so the type of job doesn’t matter that much. It’s just something that pays the bills."
One way to obtain on-campus employment, especially at a large school where the applicant pool is much larger, is through the Federal Work-Study Program (FWSP). According to Vince, the FWSP has as much to do with financial aid as it does with student employment.
"The Federal Work-Study Program is a financial resource for students to help with the cost of school and living at school," Vince said. "Not everyone is eligible, you have to apply."
Those eligible for the FWSP are awarded a predetermined amount of money with their federal financial aid that they can earn through an on-campus job. In other words, the federal government would pay the salary those students earn while employed on campus.
Almost 713,000 college students are employed through the FWSP at 3,221 institutions of higher learning around the country, according to the 2002 Campus-Based Programs Data Book. In total, FWSP employees have earned about $1 billion dollars of financial aid through the program.
Also, the FWSP, whose future is currently in the hands of the U.S. government, promotes good study habits by promoting a "modest level of work hours," said the Data Book.
The second type of student employment on and around college campuses is off-campus employment, when the student is employed through an establishment outside the university or college he or she attends. Lauren Ranalli, a junior at the University of Dayton, is employed at a pub just off campus. She claimed there is one major advantage to working off campus.
"By far the best part of off-campus employment is that the wages are higher," she said. "I know a lot of people who work on campus a lot for a smaller salary. I can go in for a couple of hours on a good night and come home with over $130."
When looking for off-campus employment, a student should only accept a job if he or she is ready for it, said Ranalli.
"The important thing to remember is that school always comes first," she said. "Being able to balance time is a little more important here than it is with on-campus jobs. The hours are also usually worse. But it pays off in the end, especially on payday."
Even with this in mind, Ranalli still advocates searching for a job at the beginning of the academic year, a message echoed by both Vince and Wissmann.
"When entering the process, positions are available at the beginning of the year," said Vince. "Be aware of the individual processes for finding these positions. Be consistent and treat this search like you would a search for any job."
"Right when you get there, find out who’s in charge of student employment and go talk to them," said Wissmann. "Don’t wait."
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