Deciding whether it’s worth it: Pros and cons of having a job in college

A lot of college students take on at least a couple of jobs while in school. As young adults, we’re willing to take any work we can find — campus work-study jobs, café or restaurant jobs, or even tutoring high school students. Regardless of which job you may have, part-time jobs are a presence in many students’ lives. But if this isn’t you yet, take a look at these pros and cons of having a job while simultaneously being a college student. And keep this list in mind as you search for part-time jobs.

Pro: Money.

It’s probably the reason you decided to work in the first place. College is expensive, and you may want to find ways to make it more affordable. This could mean working 20 to 30 hours per week. Many students cannot rely solely on their parents for financial support throughout their four or more years of college. Sometimes, the only way to afford higher education is to work a part-time job alongside your schoolwork.

Pro: Experience.

A part-time job in college is something to add to your resume, which can help when applying for full-time jobs after graduation. Any experience in the workforce often appeals to your future employers; it communicates that you can handle the workload and that you’re responsible. Even if you were a server at a restaurant or a cashier at a bookstore, it shows your ability to multitask and balance several responsibilities.

Pro: Responsibilities.

College is a time to grow your ability to take on responsibilities. You’re at an age and in an environment where you’re given a great deal of freedom. What you do with this freedom can help you grow as a person and become more responsible. Taking on a part-time job during college is one way to do this. Unlike lectures or get-togethers with friends, you can’t be late to work. People trust and rely on you to do your job. You get a taste of the real world without fully diving into the competitive professional workforce, which should help you prepare for it.

Con: Time management.

Being a full-time student takes up a lot of time. Lectures and discussions alone usually take up five to 10 hours a week, and studying and preparing for these classes take even more time. If you have to work, you have to be good at managing your time, or else your grades will suffer. The amount of time you work is the amount of studying or visiting office hours you lose. If your performance in school is affected by work, you lose out on the whole purpose of going to school, so always make sure to manage your time well.

Con: Physical and mental exhaustion.

College alone can be demanding, both physically and mentally. You’re expected to get good grades, join campus organizations, maintain a social life, find internships and more. Sleepless nights become a norm. This competitive and restless environment can really take a toll on your mental health. Taking on a job means the workload doubles or even triples. If you decide to take on a part-time job while in college, always make sure to check in with yourself. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll burn out on both school and work.

There are so many more pros and cons to having a job while in college. The key question to ask yourself is whether it’s worth it. Remember that nothing is free; if you spend hours working and making money, you also lose hours hanging out with friends or preparing for classes. Calculate what is more valuable to you and follow your needs. The quality of your college experience is just as important as graduating. So remember that if you feel like you need to take a break, do so — you deserve it.

Contact Christina Kim at [email protected].