College does not have to be your only job

Originally Posted on The Triangle via UWIRE

Photograph courtesy of Free-Photos at Pixabay.

The first time I considered the idea of having any kind of job while in college, my first thought was, “Yeah that’s not happening for me.” I dismissed the notion so quickly because I knew what kind of student I was, and at the time, having a job would have been the final nail in my coffin. I was by no means a bad student, but I had a way of doing work for my classes that would not have meshed well with having a job at the same time.

I’ve always had the privilege of a good financial situation, so for my freshman, sophomore and most of junior year, I never felt any need or motivation to get a job. I was too focused on getting the best grades possible to have time for anything else. However, once I was nearing the end of my junior year and returning to classes from my one and only co-op, I had a strange inclination to get a job of some kind. I’m not sure if it was the job experience of co-op or that I had been in college long enough to know how to play the game of getting good grades, but there was an immediate desire to start working.

Luckily, I had the option to apply to be a Peer Reader at the Drexel Writing Center. It was a near perfect fit for my skillset and what I enjoyed doing, so I figured I had nothing to lose. Come summer term of 2019, I was employed.

Now that I’ve been at the writing center for a decent amount of time, I’ve noticed some of the changes that I’ve experienced since I started working. It’s been tricky, as there have been both good and bad changes as a result of my job, but I’ve learned a lot from both the good and the bad.

The most immediate and obvious thing that I noticed since I first started working is the decrease in free time that I have. I like to think that I have a good work ethic, and I have always tried to put a lot of effort into all of my classwork, no matter how boring or pointless some assignments may have seemed. However, doing so required me to spend lots of time reading, researching, writing, proofreading and polishing my work.

Acquiring a job, of course, meant that I would have less time for my homework, but I didn’t want that to mean that the quality of my work would suffer, resulting in lower grades. So, the way I initially saw my predicament, I had three options. The first was to spend less time doing homework, lowering the quality. The second was to deduct a couple hours from my sleeping schedule and use them to do my homework. My final option was to deduct a couple hours from my free time and put them towards doing homework.

I wasn’t willing to settle for potentially lower grades and I also wasn’t trying to cut down on watching YouTube videos, playing video games or writing Triangle article; so, sleep it was. In retrospect, I can say with complete certainly that I made the worst choice possible of the three. That term was one of the most sleep-deprived summers I have ever experienced.

If you’re thinking about getting a job, make sure you take into consideration how the work hours are going to fit in with your current schedule, and be ready to make some sacrifices. If you feel that you can go without less sleep, then by all means do so. However, be aware ahead of time of the choice you will have to make, so that you aren’t caught off-guard like me and rushed into making a dumb decision.

A lack of time is one of the cons of having a job (unless you love the job to death — then it’s a pro.) However, despite this lack of time to do homework, you may find as I have, that you’ll start having a better work ethic than you did before. Even if you already had a good work ethic, there is something about having a job while you’re also taking classes that seems to boost some people’s ability to do well in college.

I was skeptical of this idea initially and thought it was just me, but you can find some studies online that suggest this is a real effect of having job, as well as some that argue the opposite. According to collegeraptor.com, this effect is proven by statistical studies. “Believe it or not, studies show that having a job in college can actually have a positive impact on your GPA. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that students who worked 20 hours a week (or less) had higher GPAs than their fellow students who didn’t work at all!”

I can’t say that having a job in college has directly aided in the improvement of my GPA, but I can say that it has made me more productive and diligent when it comes to getting my work done for courses. Along with the additional source of income and resume building, the improvement to work ethic is the major reason that I would urge you to get a job.

Your situation may not be entirely suited to getting a job though, and that is something you will have to determine for yourself. You could be drowning in homework, have a lot of extracurricular activities or have time commitments outside of college. I wish I had gotten a job a lot sooner, but getting a job back in that situation would have had a negative impact on me and my grades. So, be smart about when you decide to get a job and make sure you are prepared for it.

There are many factors to account for, but I think the experience of having a job while in college is very worthwhile. You’ll earn money, meet new people, gain work experience, learn better time management and have another source of knowledge, as there are some things a job can teach you that college simply can’t.

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