Work Study: Less Than 20 Will Still Make You Money

By Sarah Montgomery

As college students we’re all too familiar with balancing school and work. Most of us miss the part time jobs that got us through high school, but because college tuition often costs tens of thousands of dollars we need a source of income. However, working part or full time while attending college full time does not always have a positive effect on academic success. Undergraduate students continue to work a full or part time job to help pay for their education, yet sometimes sacrifice the education itself in doing so. What they don’t realize is that there is a solution to maintaining a better balance between school and work, particularly here at Holy Family University.

The average undergraduate may not be aware of how many of us are actually committing to a job in addition to attending school full time. In her article “Working During College Doesn’t Always Pay,” Gail MarksJarvis says, “about 40 percent of undergraduates work at least 30 hours a week while also taking out loans to pay for college.” She also says that some students “work full time because they’re afraid of taking loans.” Either way—if one is taking out loans or not—many undergraduates take on a job in order to help ease their expenses, whether they be personal or academic.

Source: Department of Education

As MarksJarvis mentioned, students may see their academic performance suffer when working too many hours per week. Doing so can leave students with little to no time to complete schoolwork or engage in studying. As reported by Bingham Young University’s (BYU) Employment Services article “Effects of Employment on Student Academic Success,” employment on student’s GPA’s only tends to show harmful effects when the students are working over fifteen hours per week. BYU’s study proves that working more than part time does, in fact, have a negative effect on academic success. Students who do this are putting their futures at risk because they are distracted. They are spending more time working for money than they are focusing on their schoolwork; therefore, they are not learning to their full potential. If habits like those escalate, one may graduate without being adequately prepared for a job in their field, hence jeopardizing their future success. However, this is not to say that this will be the case for every student.

Some undergraduate students maintain jobs while in school and do not display any signs of a wavering GPA. According to the BYU study, “students who work fewer than 15-20 hours often report higher GPAs than those who do not work at all.” These students who work, but are not spending too many hours doing so, are exhibiting an effective balance of studying and working. They have a better grip on time management and show great responsibility in that they are equally spreading out their schoolwork with their financial necessities.

Still, not every college student is able to find a job that will allow them to work less than twenty hours a week or one that will adequately fit in with their school schedules. Therefore, they keep their fifteen-hour-a-week-jobs even if these may have an adverse effect on their academic success all because they need the money. The effect of this issue on students’ present and future lives can be minimized by looking into other employment opportunities that will better suit their needs.

At many colleges, especially here at Holy Family University, there is a vast variety of jobs that students can apply for right on campus. These job opportunities are often the best ones because, while they are still completely legitimate jobs, the employers realize that the employee is a student and that schoolwork is a priority. On-campus jobs typically offer five to ten hours per week for the same minimum wage that one would make at an off-campus job. The experience of on-campus employment offers two very important advantages: a manageable amount of hours (less than fifteen) that statistically indicates a stronger ability to earn higher GPA, and the flexibility of the job.

As a sophomore at Holy Family who has experienced working on campus versus off campus, I can say without a doubt that working on-campus is a much more rewarding experience. It is very convenient because it cuts out the commute time and resources often required for an off-campus job; I’m able to use this extra time for additional hours of work or to complete homework and studying. In addition, my employers are always friendly and willing to work with me around my school schedule.

Having an on-campus job is a more advantageous employment opportunity for undergraduate students looking to be academically successful, maintaining their GPA’s, and essentially making a larger investment for their future. Often times, these jobs are overlooked for off-campus jobs that require too many hours and are detrimental to academic success. Holy Family University offers a number of on-campus jobs that are available to students as federal work study jobs as well as just general applications. If you are a student experiencing the negative effects that off-campus jobs can impose on a student’s academic career, I encourage you to check out the employment programs that Holy Family University has to offer you.

Sarah Montgomery is a second-year Biology major with a proclivity for space and science-related films.