Being a working student in college can feel like an insurmountable amount of work. Long shifts at late hours, tough customers, scrutinizing managers, and homework stress are all struggles that students face while balancing work and school.
What we need to acknowledge, however, are all the benefits that students gain from working alongside their studies. From social opportunities to higher post-college salaries, here are a few reasons why being a working student in college is actually a good thing.
1. Work experience
Whether working at a coffee shop on campus, or in an internship related to your major, you are gaining valuable work experience. Not only are you adding to your resume, but you are also gaining skills for later down the road.
Chaili Trentham, a program coordinator at Azusa Pacific University states, “a job in college provides the opportunity to put your learning from your classes into practice, or gain practical skill sets that may not be directly linked to your coursework, yet rounds out your experience.”
While it may feel like an additional burden at times to have work on top of your studies, it is important to remember that you are also learning at your job.
2. Potential friendships
Work is a great place to make friends, because you are constantly interacting with customers and colleagues, who tend to be other college students.
These friendships act in tandem to motivate working students to keep pushing, when they are struggling to manage work and school. After all, you are surrounded by people who are in the same boat as you.
3. Budgeting skills
Working students have a fairly small salary, given on a biweekly or monthly basis, which makes it essential for students to become expert budgeters.
It’s dull work, and can often mean missing out on better food or luxury sneakers, but it is an invaluable life skill. Budgeting is essential to helping young people transition into the adult world and the expenses that come with it.
4. Networking connections
If you are doing an internship as a college student, it is important to take advantage of networking opportunities. These can be more valuable than the modest salary that most college jobs offer.
If you’re working within your major and would like to make a career out of it, then be sure to leave a good impression.
It will grant you great references and potentially a job. Alternatively, if you are working in a field that doesn’t feel relevant to your future, then it’s still a good idea to show your employers that you are punctual, helpful, and reliable.
These are universal skills, and can be referenced to future employers.
5. Looks great on resume
Regardless of where you work in college, the mere fact of working during college is impressive. Employers will see that you have the ambition and responsibility to maintain good grades and work at the same time.
The real world experience and time management skills give you a leg up against other students, who may have focused solely on academics.
6. Improves time management
Every working student knows that it is nearly impossible to work a job and get homework done without superb time management skills. If you don’t have these skills, you have to learn them quickly, or your performance in school or work will be negatively affected.
While this is an unfortunate reality for working students, this pressure also teaches students to balance their responsibilities. In adult life, one has to juggle their job, friends, family, and hobbies.
That task becomes increasingly difficult with time, so learning these skills in college gives you a headstart on being prepared for life after graduation.
7. Boosts future earning potential
Being a working student increases your earning potential— not just in school, but after graduation, too. According to a 2019 Rutgers University study of 160,000 public university students, those who worked in college scored an average income $20,000 higher than students who didn’t.
This is most likely due to the experience working students have as both students and employees, which provide skills that their non-working peers miss out on.
8. Can actually make you a better student up to a point
Studies have found that working to a certain extent actually makes you a better student. According to a study published in Economics of Education Review, students who work are more likely to graduate.
Many other studies also show that students who work 10 to 20 hours per week have slightly higher grade point averages than students who don’t work.
The responsibility and motivation required as an employee carries over to being a strong student. The only catch: “All the research on this topic found a negative correlation with grades and graduation rates for students who worked more than 20 hours per week.”
This meaning students working full-time jobs during college can be held back academically, because they have to spend so much time on non-academic work.
9. Flexible hours compared to post-college job opportunities
While balancing work and school can feel like an insane task, it is important to recognize that campus jobs are still a lot more flexible than full-time jobs in the real world when it comes to hours.
Campus employers usually are willing to work with student schedules, whereas most other jobs give you a rigid schedule that you must always follow, regardless of what’s going on in your personal life.
10. Some extra spending money
While salaries in college are not always amazing, it can be very nice to have some extra spending money in your pocket at the end of a long week. Being able to buy food off-campus is always a bonus, as well as other amenities you might need for your dorm.
It’s not always ideal to juggle school and work at the same time, but if you are in this situation, you can still reap the unique benefits of being a working student.
As long as you are able to balance your mental health and keep your performance level high in your work and academics, then you will come out the other end with a leg up on your peers and valuable experience. It is a difficult ordeal, but definitely worth it.
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