The Pros and Cons of Working in College

on July 14, 2016

College brings with it a lot of change - a new school to navigate, a new schedule to get used to, new professors to meet and new peers to befriend. If you're especially motivated, one of these changes can also be a new job.

Plenty of college students work while they're earning their degree. A study from Georgetown University found 62 percent of undergrads worked while attending school and put in an average of 29 hours per week. That means most of your classmates probably have a job, whether it's part or full-time. But working while in college isn't for everyone, and it's important to figure out whether it's for you or not before committing.

The Pros

You'll have extra spending money. College life can be expensive - ordering pizza, buying books and paying for nights out is costly, but it's even more expensive if you're taking out student loans to do it. Having a job lets you pay for these fun things without worrying about paying it back with interest later. You can even start building up an emergency fund or set aside money to start paying back your student loans once you graduate.

You'll learn to manage time wisely. Juggling work, extracurriculars, a social life and school isn't easy. Working while you're in college teaches you to manage your time well, a skill that will be very useful after graduation.

You'll make connections. Working, whether it's on campus or off, allows you to meet people who may be able to help you in the future. Supervisors in your college job may be able to write you a recommendation letter for grad school or pass along information about an internship or scholarship you may be a good fit for. If you make a great impression, your manager may even offer to act as a reference once you look for a full-time job after graduation.

It gives you experience. Most hiring managers want their employees to have at least some work experience under their belts. Even a part-time job in college helps you gain some experience in a work environment and gives you something to put on your resume. If you're able to get a part-time job that relates to your long-term career goals, that's even better!

It might help pay your tuition. Some companies contribute to their employees' educations. Here are just a few companies that help you pay for college.

Your grades may be higher. A study from the U.S. Department of Labor found college students who work 20 hours per week or fewer had higher GPAs than their counterparts who didn't work or worked more than 20 hours each week.

The Cons

You may struggle with your workload. If you're working and taking a lot of especially difficult classes, you may feel as though you don't have time for all the studying you need to do. Carefully consider how much time you need to spend on schoolwork and how much time you'd reasonably be able to spend at a job before filling out any applications.

Your schedule isn't as flexible. One of the major perks of being a college student is being able to go to the gym, study or hang out with friends whenever you want. If you have a job, you'll miss out on some of this free time because you'll be working.

Looking for the right type of job? Check out our Careers and Majors quiz to see what fits your personality and skills.

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