Working During College

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the pros and cons of working while in college

Finding a job as a college student can be both exciting and stressful, and it’s not for everyone. For example, students who have already received tuition assistance through scholarships and have full course loads may not have enough time for work. Let’s look more closely at the advantages and disadvantages of working during college:


  • Earning extra money: One of the most obvious benefits to working during college  is earning extra money for college expenses.
  • Enhanced budgeting skills: Students with the responsibility of working may learn to budget their money better since they have to earn it themselves.
  • Enhanced time-management skills: Students who have to juggle classes, work, and possibly other activities such as clubs or sports may actually excel in classes because they learn how to effectively management their time.
  • Networking: Students may not only get work experience in a field related to their interests, but they may also meet people who can help them later when they’re ready for a career. For example, a law student who gets a job as a file clerk with a law firm may be able to ask the lawyers at the firm for recommendations when she applies to law school.


  • Lack of time-management skills: Though working during college can help students build time-management skills, those who aren’t used to balancing activities may struggle. For example, a student who heads to college straight from high school without any prior job experience (or with few extracurricular activities during high school) may have trouble meeting multiple academic and job obligations and commitments.
  • Lack of free time: If students take on a lot of work hours while in college, they may not have time for other activities or opportunities, such as joining clubs related to their interests or finding volunteer work or internships that might help them discover career opportunities and connections. These “extras” are actually significant résumé items that can make students more employable after college.

Deciding whether or not to work while you’re in college is obviously personal decision that involves your own comfort level and situation. Some students may prefer to put off looking for a job until after the first semester of college, so they can better gauge their work load and schedule, while others may prefer to avoid working altogether. For some, the question isn’t “Should I or shouldn’t I get a job?” but “How much should I work?” In other words, the challenge is to strike the right balance between schoolwork, social activities, and earning money.

The following video shares one student’s experience with the pros and cons of working her way through college.

You can view the transcript for “Students Working Through College” here (opens in new window).


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