Julie Roosa September 20, 2017


By Isaac C Klein

DMACC Honors Student

Guest Columnist

            Very often students will study for a degree in college they do not enjoy, and they don’t find out until late in the game.  They will then either reroll their degree and accumulate debt, or they will continue instead of starting over and be stuck with it.  A second issue is a lack of motivation among students.  Many students will go through college just looking for a passing grade instead of focusing for the benefits of their education.  Once they get through college or don’t get through college, reality will hit and they will be placed in the working field.  In many cases, they may regret their college choices or wish they had chosen differently in their career paths.

            I think the issue here is a lack of experience in the work force.  While many students do attend college and work jobs, there are a vast number who are either entirely held together on student loans, their parents, or a combination of the two.  Seeing as thought the financial burden is currently off them, they are free to spend their time as they choose outside of class, whereas a working student needs to think more wisely about his time.  The need to handle your own finances, makes a student think harder about what’s at stake if he fails or passes, so it brings motivation.   When you don’t experience work while you are in school, you won’t know what you like and don’t like for your future career.  Staying busy in the work field while balancing that with a class schedule can be very tiring and stressful, but it can give you motivation to fight on and look for better days ahead!  Even the “Journal of Population Economics” reports that students who work part-time have slightly higher-grade point averages than students who don’t work.  Reports showed that 4 year and 2 year working students had average GPAs for over 20 hrs. a week of 2.95 and 2.94, for under 20 hours a week 3.13 and 2.93, and compared with unemployed reported 3.04 and 2.82.  Reports showing working about 20 hours or less was beneficial to students’ education but working over had a reverse detrimental effect. 

            For a personal example, I’ve worked in several retail and grocery stores such as Walmart and Hy-Vee over a period of about 4 years.  Over that time, I learned quite a bit about cash registers, customer service, machinery, and Telxon’s.  I also in this timeframe learned I am not geared for customer service based jobs.  I could do it if I needed to, but it wasn’t really for me.  Then I tried delivery driving with Dominos, and I had a better experience with customers on the road.  However, I learned a lot about the stakes of driving your own vehicle for work.  Costs for oil, repair, and gas practically outweighed the amount of money I made on the job.  When all was said and done, my job ended in a car wreck which put me in a rough spot that made me think about my life and where I was going.  This is when I decided to start going to college looking for a better future.  While in college I continued to financially support myself while working a new type of job.  I now work at Old Chicago in the kitchen with the pizzas, and I’ve been working at it for two years now.  I enjoy what I do here because I think I make great food that customers can also enjoy.  There is a team effort in the kitchen which I haven’t found very much anywhere else.

I have now been studying at DMACC for two years and did not go to college immediately after graduating college because I was unsure id be able to succeed and be able to repay.  The fear burdened me from taking on a financial responsibility, so I worked all these jobs.  If I would have started college off the bat, I do not believe I would’ve taken it very seriously. Through working over the years, I have narrowed my degree choices and have improved my social interactions with coworkers and managers which has been beneficial to how I approach my classmates and professors.  Now with the perspectives I’ve brought in from work, I am more focused and serious about graduating with my ideal degree.  I continue to work hard on the field and in class.  My stamina is at zero, but my motivation for completion is at 100. 

Many students are ending up with the wrong degrees and a bag of debt, because they did not know what they wanted to pursue out of their education, and they didn’t have the motivation to do it.  The solution to their problem is to work a job while they work towards their degrees, so they can remember why they are studying what they are studying, to motivate them, and to get experience in the work field to find out what they do or do not like in work before it’s too late, and they are stuck with their degree.

If you are a working student then I’m proud of your effort and keep up the great work!  If you aren’t, it isn’t too late to start!  Make a resume, if you haven’t already.  look for a job anywhere you are interested!  Persistence, persistence, persistence and take the job!  If you don’t like a job, you can always look for a new one, but at least you can say you did try.  Continue working while you work for your degrees, work hard and study hard!  If you discover early on that you don’t like the path you are aiming for then it isn’t too late to change it and at least now you know.  According to an article under The American Association of University Professors, research shows increased academic success for the on campus working student!


Isaac C Klein is a 23-year-old working DMACC Honors’ student graduating with an Associates Degree in Liberal Science Summer 2017.   He will be transferring to Iowa State University as a Computer Engineer major with a minor in either Mathematics or Chinese Language.  He currently works part time as a Pizza Line chef at Old Chicago, and part time as a Respite Care Provider through Iowa Family Assistants.  He helps teach English to international scholars and students at ISU.  He was raised in a family with 11 siblings besides himself. He wrote this as part of a leadership assignment in an Honors Capstone seminar.