Christopher Newport University has on-campus residents and commuters that are balancing school and work simultaneously to help pay for school, as well as other expenses.
“I work closing shifts because of school in the morning. I go straight from class right to work, and then I’m at work until eleven thirty at night, then go home, and the day’s already over,” said Cansas Stephens, a junior. “It just takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of prioritizing too. You’ve got to make sure that you manage your schoolwork, and just have time for everything.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, around 73 percent of part-time college students, from the ages of 16 to 24, had jobs, and about 40 percent of full-time college students, also from the ages of 16 to 24, had found work as well.
These percentages were also affected by the students’ level of enrollment. Those who were part-time graduate students were more likely to have jobs than part-time undergraduate students, with a difference of 90 to 72 percent. There was also a high percentage of graduate students that worked 35 or more hours a week, compared to undergraduate students.
Although the jobs available aren’t necessarily in the field students plan to be working in after graduation, they can help prepare them by offering certain skills that are applicable in many different areas.
“I feel like talking with people in a professional manner, like customer service wise, and stuff like that, has helped just to get to know how to work with people in that way,” commented Katie Schumacher, a senior who works in the library. “I do think that after graduation I want to go and work in a lab. I’m a science major, so this isn’t super related, but I think some of the personal skills helped.”
Gabrielle Mowery, a commuter that works off campus, stated, “I’m a cashier, so I have to talk to a lot of people.
You learn how to provide customer service when customers get angry, and learn how to deal with those. Of course, income is great for paying off student loans.”
Having a job while completing a college education will help pay off any student debt, but also other costs of living.
“I give myself a budget most of the time. I will take out gas right off the top of my paycheck because that’s got to be the first priority,” Stephens said. “Most of my paycheck goes to gas, but I keep an eye on how much I’m spending, constantly, and know what’s in my bank account at all times.”
Mowery agrees, “A lot of my decision to get a job was because of school costs, but some of it was gas money because I do have my own car.”
Balancing their academic course load along with hours at their respective jobs remains a prime concern for college students in the work force, and something students looking for a job need to consider.
“I think it really depends on the course load, and the job because I can study while I’m at work, sometimes. When it’s slow, and I have flashcards, I can work with those,” commented Mowery. “It really depends on how much the person needs to study because I would say that school should be a priority, and getting good grades there. A job would be fine as long as it didn’t hinder that.”
While commuters may find it easier and more beneficial to take a job off campus, those who live close to school or on campus may want to look into the available on campus jobs.
“It’s definitely more convenient and they’re more understanding about schedules, family stuff,” stated Schumacher. “If you can’t come in because you have a huge exam the next day, I feel like they try to get you to find someone to cover your hours. But for the most part, [she] understands that being a student comes first.”
Stephens, who has a job off campus, commented, ”It’s probably easier to get a job on campus or somewhere that works really good with schedules. I come in in the middle of shifts. I know a lot of banks, or things like that, don’t do that. You have to be there for a whole shift, basically. Fast food, and things on campus, will help you. Look for something that works with schedules.”
For students who are interested in investigating getting a job on campus, or are planning on applying for one next year, Schumacher advises, “Definitely apply early, over the summer, like July or August, because that’s when they’re about to do their hiring. A lot of people wait until two weeks into classes and all the positions are filled. Start early because a lot of them are popular.”