Should your kid work while in college? That's the question CNN posed recently in an article examining how students can bridge the tuition gap in light of shrinking college savings accounts.
CNN was quick to point out the hazards of working too much in college. The most prominent being that students who work more than 15 hours a week are less likely to graduate in four years, adding significantly to the overall cost of higher education. That said, having a job as a student isn't something college students should rule out.
Most schools offer campus jobs which often times provide students with 8-12 hour per week schedules and supervisors who are sympathetic to the academic process. While a bulk of these jobs may be in campus food services or janitorial, they still provide good work experience. With a little effort students can even find a campus job relating to their major, which will prove helpful when they begin the job hunt after graduation.
Campus jobs are also a great way to make new friends and acclimate to the college environment. My first semester I spent almost every morning washing dishes with the same crew and gained many friends as we grumbled about the early hour. This helped ward off homesickness, and we all formed some great friendships. This past summer I was even a groomsman in the wedding of my fellow dishwasher!
While I was in school, I worked every year, contributing to my education as well as funding the costs of living on campus. On my campus the majority of students are given some kind of campus job as part of the admissions process. According to CNN, this is a good thing, since several studies have shown that students who work a reasonable number of hours do better in school.
By the time I was a senior I was putting in 40 hours a week, split equally between the local coffee shop and the technology center. Over the course of my four years, I became a supervisor at the technology center and a member of the management team at the coffee shop. Both of these jobs taught me a great deal about managing employees and for the record, if you can manage students, you can manage anyone!
Without this valuable work experience I wouldn't be in the position I am today. Aside from teaching me responsibility and time management I also picked up many other skills that aren't taught in the classroom.
Should your kid get a job at school? Yes. Yes. Yes! Even if you can afford to foot the entire bill (lucky kid) you should insist that your student have some kind of job while attending college. When May comes around in four years and he or she enters the job force, the skills and experience learned can easily make the difference between landing a job and landing back at home. With friendships, networking, experience and money towards tuition; the positives of having a part time job while working far outweigh any of the negatives.
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