The tough road of working and studying full time

By Dakota Fredette

There once was a time when a full-time college student could graduate debt free, often by working full-time. Now, that task has become quite the challenge. Never-the-less, students still have to work, but it won’t necessarily pay off that piling debt.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 70 percent of college students are employed while in college. The biggest factor in being able to complete both school and work is time. Having enough time to achieve good grades, enough to study and, of course, enough to sleep at night. But how does a full-time college student manage it all, is it possible for a full-time student to have a full-time job as well?

Students across the county and at Bluffton are experiencing the struggle full-time studying and working brings.

Nick Seifert, who attended Bluffton full-time last year, works at a local McDonald’s. Seifert, who would put in around 35 hours a week, said, “Any job, no matter how many hours you work, adds to your stress level and any time that is taken away is time taken away from your studies.”

Nick Seifert was a full-time Bluffton student last year and now works at McDonald’s. Photos by Dakota Fredette

When asked if he was able to save any money back for his debt, he joked, “On minimum wage? That is impossible.” Asking that crucial question of, is it possible to manage both? Seifert answered, “For me, no it wasn’t, and part of the reason why I had to take a year off from school.”

Sophomore Zach Dalton works at a local gas station. Dalton, clocks in a minimum 40 hours every week. Dalton considers having a job “additional unwanted stress but necessary stress, as it pays the bills.” Dalton is also a commuter, and this adds to his inability to save back any money, which goes to other expenses such as rent and gas. “Working takes a lot of time away from my studies, which can sometimes show in my grades,” Dalton continued.

Dalton and Seifert agree that in order to be successful in college you have to focus on college by managing time properly and prioritizing school and studying over your job.

“If you have to do both, only work part time,” Seifert said.

“That’s why you’re in college, though, so you don’t have to be stuck at a gas station or a fast food restaurant forever,” Dalton said.

The average annual tuition nationwide for a private four-year university is $32,410 according to the College Board. A worker in Ohio earning minimum wage makes $8.15 an hour, a yearly salary of $16,848 according to the Ohio Department of Commerce.

However, there can be a big difference in the price tag and the actual money that comes out of pocket, thanks to financial aid. Although private colleges universities provide more financial aid than public schools through scholarships and other merits, for many it is still not enough to cover the mounting debt.

Neither your job nor your college will halt to your demands. Even if the two schedules seem to coexist peacefully, there will be unwanted unrest as they are not transfixed. This tug of war can drive students to do poorly in both their studies and at their job. Every student, though, has different class schedules, and that means students have options when it comes to finding a job.

Challenges are inevitable, and there are ways to help reduce the stress. Find a job that has a light workload, one that doesn’t require off-the-clock attention. A part-time job with a flexible schedule and flexible management will clear that much-needed time for your studies. Saving as much money as possible before you get to college can help by providing a cushion to fall back on.

Although a job during college may seem like unwanted stress, there are benefits. It can help develop time and money management skills, reduce debt and give a step ahead in the beginning of your future career.

Seifert has been saving all his money and plans to return to Bluffton in the fall where he will continue his goal of becoming a counselor for veterans. Dalton has reduced his hours to focus more on his studies and has started freelance writing for his major in the field of marketing.

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