Should I Work While in College? 3 Things to Consider

Female college student works at a coffee shop as a barista while going to college

College is an exciting, busy time. Your day-to-day schedule may involve attending classes, spending time with friends, studying, participating in sports or other activities, and hopefully, getting time to rest. You may find you have extra time in the evenings or on weekends. You could take this time to study, rest or socialize. Or, you may be considering getting a job.

Working in college part-time, or anywhere from five to 35 hours a week, can be a great way to earn money while still balancing your other responsibilities. Many retail stores regularly hire part-timers and offer flexible schedules, even hiring seasonally and paying more over holiday breaks. 

Having a part-time job can help you pay expenses, get ahead on student loans and have extra spending money. On the other hand, having a job means having less time to socialize, study and work on projects. How can you know if working in college is right for you? 

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

1. Do you have enough time? 

While working a part-time job may not sound like much, you may find yourself needing more free time as the semester progresses. Class work, finals and other responsibilities can quickly pile up and put a strain on your time. 

Be sure to consider all of your commitments before applying for a job. Make a weekly schedule with allotments for homework, hanging out with friends, down time and extracurricular activities. If you still feel like you have time to spare, then consider applying to work part-time while you’re in college. 

2. Is it worth the additional income? 

As a college student, it can be extremely helpful to have extra money coming in. It can help you cover necessary expenses like gas, rent and groceries, allow you to start saving or paying down student loans, and have spending money on hand.

Start by writing down all of your expenses. Then, create a rough budget to see how much you have coming in, how much you have to spend on necessities and how much you have left over. From there, you can see if having additional income would benefit you and be worth the loss of free time and study time to work in college.

3. Can you stay committed? 

Whether you have a full-time job or are only working a couple of hours a week, a job is a serious commitment. As workloads increase, tests come up and things get more hectic, you may not be able to get time off or lessen your hours. 

Consider all of the implications before applying, like if you’ll have enough time for homework or if you’re open to sacrificing time with friends or other activities to work weekends. After you start working, it may be helpful to talk with your employer and discuss expectations about hours and flexibility for busier times like midterms and finals.

Working part-time in college can be a great use of your free time. While having extra income can be helpful, the additional commitment and time constraints can be a lot to handle. Start with only a few hours a week or work more over breaks. If you feel like you can do more, increase your weekly hours, but be sure to prioritize your school work and allow yourself to rest and spend time with friends.

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