As a current freshman in college, I am a walking poster child for working students. I currently work at a car dealership, teach dance classes, and have a nanny job, along with the occasional odd babysitting jobs during the week. On top of all that, I am a full-time student. I have found that it requires a lot of work and will-power to keep up with everything on my plate. To find time to study is like trying not to drown when you don’t know how to swim. I understand that a lot of college students have bills that need to be paid and are required to work, but I think there comes a certain point where you have to look at what you’re doing and ask yourself if working that much is worth it. I fully encourage working while in school, but I don’t think your studies should be neglected because of it.
According to The Atlantic, about 70 to 80 percent of the 14 million Americans that are working are college students, and about 10 percent of the overall labor force. While studying and going to class, students are working to pay off their student debt – some of them even work full-time while full-time in school. It doesn’t matter if it’s community college or a state university, college students are juggling the demands of both school and work.
I personally have struggled with the demands of the workforce. Not just the physical demands, but the mental demands as well. It can be very difficult to remember everything you have to do in one 24 hour day. You can make lists and reminders for yourself but nothing changes the fact that you are stretched too thin. I cannot tell you how many times I have forgotten to run to the store or have forgotten that I had a test in a class. It takes a lot of brainpower to try and accomplish everything that’s on your “To Do” list in one day.
I know everyone who has been through high school and college has heard the “time management” speech. You are taught from day one that you should set aside a good chunk of time each day to focus on your studies. However, you don’t really understand the value of that chunk of time until you are in college. College is a more difficult and demanding version of high school. You are assigned more work than you’re used to and are required to work harder. You have to be in class to learn the material, and if you’re not in class because you were scheduled to work, then your studies have been neglected. I am a huge supporter of the time management speech. Even if it’s studying for 15 minutes at night or getting up early to finish that paper you never had the chance to take a second look at, every minute counts. Every minute you spend focusing on your studies is another minute towards graduating.
What comes along with time management is learning how to say “no”. As a young adult, you’re always going to want to say “yes” when your friends ask you if you want to go out to eat, or when a coworker asks if you can cover their shift. It’s always okay to decline their invite when you are buried in class assignments. Your grades should always come first. There’s always another day to go hang out with friends, but your homework deadlines won’t change. You’re going to be working your whole life, but the type of job you’ll be working depends on if you get your college degree or not.
As a solution, I think that college students should receive some sort of help balancing their life events. Whether it’s meeting with a school counselor or re-evaluating the day’s schedule, any little sort of advice could help. I know that college is expensive and bills need to be paid, hence the reason why most college students work. But if there was some sort of alternative to missing class or not having enough time to study, it would make a great impact. It’s great that college students are working, but how much will their education suffer to make money?