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Ah yes, college. The best four years of your life. You want to enjoy every second of it, so why would a crazy person, me, tell you to spend some time at college working? The benefits outweigh the cons.
When you go to college you should fully commit to your education, but working during college does not take away from it, it actually improves your commitment.
So as of 2015, why are only 43% of full-time undergraduate students working part-time, according to the National Center for Education Statistics?
Reasons to Work in College
Here are some reasons why I worked my way through school and you should too.
1. You Need to Eat
Being a college student is the very definition of living the budget lifestyle. For me, it was really important to have spending money for the luxuries, like ramen noodles and two-ply toilet paper.
I had many friends who took out extra student loans to pay for these everyday expenses and even spring break trips.
It was tempting then, but now I see those same friends struggling to pay their bills after graduation. Trust me, it’s really hard to say no, but can you justify paying extra interest on all of those purchases?
Not convinced yet? Let’s do some math.
The current private student loan rates are averaging between 6.5 – 8% APR.
Let’s say you spend an extra $500 of your private student loans on fun items or food.
If you have a 6.5% annual interest rate and a loan term of 10 years you wind up paying $681.29. An extra $180 just in interest.
What if your loan term is 20 years? You’ll find yourself paying $894.69.
2. Student Loans Can Haunt you for Decades
If you aren’t a little uncomfortable taking out student loans, you should be. Two words – compounding interest. In case of your 401ks, compounding interest is great but in the case of your student loans, not so much.
Most student loans compound interest daily meaning that everyday interest is added to your account balance. The next day when the interested is calculated, your previous earned interest is included in that.
Want to learn more about how student loan interest is calculated? Check out this resource.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take out loans. You should, however, take time to learn the basics about your loans before you sign. That way you know exactly how and when you’re going to have to start paying them back.
Want to learn more about all of your government and private loan options, check out.
3. College Jobs Teach Time Management
I took 15-18 credits every semester, was involved on campus, and worked 20+ hours a week. I could not have survived my work-life-school schedule without time management.
Invest in a planner or use a calendar app on your phone. I promise it won’t kill you, you might even like it.
Working forced me to be at places at certain times. It trained me to wake up on time and be truthful to myself about my responsibilities.
Once I started working, I didn’t see the point of skipping a 50-minute class if I had to be at work right after or vice versa.
4. You Learn Money Management
There isn’t a class to teach you everything you could ever need to know about your finances. Having a job (and reading great blogs like this one) will help you build knowledge foundation.
College jobs will help you become familiar with tax forms, pay schedules and paycheck deductions.
Having a job can begin to teach you the ins and outs of investing.
5. College Jobs Build Your Resume
The ultimate reason why I went to college is to get a job that I enjoyed. Well, I’m here to tell you the job market is still really competitive, especially for entry-level positions.
There will be so many others with your exact degree so you have to take time to learn what makes you stand out.
Having jobs in college, even if they don’t totally relate to your field will help you do that.
6. You Acclimate To Your Work Environment
I’m lucky, I knew what I wanted to do before I graduated high school and stuck to it. I knew I wanted to write and be in an office, so it took time but I found jobs working in the places that I wanted to work in the future.
Learning the ins and outs of a workplace can take time so if you can do it before you even graduate it makes you a much stronger candidate.
7. The Networking from the Job
Stop rolling your eyes. Trust me, two years ago I was you. Honestly, I didn’t know how to network and I didn’t realize that working allowed me to network without even realizing I was doing it.
Working in a different place than you attend classes will allow you to meet new people and expand that social circle.
Even if you’re just working with other students, don’t write it off. One of those students might just be able to help you secure a job one day soon.
8. Connect to Campus or Your City
Finding an on-campus job will help you form a unique connection to your college campus that you wouldn’t be able to form just by taking classes.
If your college is in or near a city that you would love to live in post-graduation, now is the time to connect with it and make your mark.
Professionals are so willing to sit down with a student for lunch and help you in any way that they can, so take advantage of that. What are you waiting for? The worst they can say is no!
Working your way through college will not make you a social leper or cause you to fail out of school. Not sure where to start? Try contacting your school’s career services.
They can help you start the search for a part-time job and will understand your potential hesitations.
What to Look for in a College Job
1. Something with a Set Schedule
Having a set schedule will make it easier to plan your classes and stick to your study times.
2. In Your Field
This can be hard, but the work experience will be worth the stress of finding this great job.
3. More Than Minimum Wage
I know, easier said than done. A few dollars more an hour really does add up.
4. A Place That Will Put Your Education First
Many workplaces around college campuses understand that your education needs to come first. This might even mean they will let you take off time around big tests or finals.
See, working your way through college really isn’t that bad. It will be tough, but there is no better way to prepare yourself for the job market
By: Rachel Quinn
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