The Effect of College Students Struggling to Balance School & Work


Balancing work and school can be difficult. Many college students attend school full time and work, requiring a commitment to their academics. Parents of full-time, traditional students are also asking their children to work to defray the increasing cost of college. The effect of this balancing act isn't necessarily a detriment to your academic progress.

Benefits of Working

  • Students who work while taking classes earn extra money for tuition, books and monthly bills. According to Michael Wenz and Wei-Choun Yu in their article published in the "Journal of Education Finance," financial benefits are not the only advantage of working while in college. Students who receive on-the-job training gain valuable career experience. By successfully balancing work and school, students also learn life skills that enable them to navigate through the future ups and downs of their lives.

Impact on Academics

  • You might think that working while in school creates a disadvantage in academic achievement, but this isn't clear cut. Wenz and Yu report that students who work more weekly hours during term time are likely to see a slight decline in their grade point average. But Brandon Lang, in his study reported in the "College Student Journal," found that working college students were likely to maintain the same grade levels as non-working students. How many hours a student works, why they work and the employment environment all impact whether working has a positive or negative impact.

Studying vs. Socializing

  • College life is busy without adding employment into the mix, however, students who work still make the time to study. Lang compares working and non-working students, reporting that both groups devote equal amounts of time to their studies. Lang's research suggests that as working students increase hours on the job, most make the choice to socialize less instead of decreasing study time. Wenz, Yu and Lang discovered similar results, showing that students who work off-campus tend to work more hours. These students have less time available compared to students who work on-campus, and thus spend less time socializing, using their non-work time to study.

The Right Balance

  • With more college students working than ever before, many institutions offer advice on how to find the right balance between school and work. For example, the University of Illinois at Chicago suggests students first look for a job on campus, as this is the best employment situation. Using a smartphone to keep a schedule and to set reminders of important due dates helps students stay organized. The West Virginia University encourages students to resist negative thinking when stressed, to seek support and to stay focused on goals.

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