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Is Working Your Way Through College A Good Idea?

Sep 13, 2012

Paying for college can be a definitive challenge, and some students feel compelled to get a job or maintain their employment while they are going to school. Is this a good idea? Or, should people do everything in their power to take a break from going to work while they pursue a degree?

Covering costs

The reality of life is that some people do not have a choice when it comes to work. Saving for college is a great idea, but some individuals and families simply do not have the assets to save very much. If some students are going to afford tuition, books and supplies, they will need to make some money while going to school. What students have to assess is whether they are working out of pure necessity, or whether the work funds a particular lifestyle. In some cases, it may be better to cut back on expenses while in school, rather than adding stress to the education process by working.

Juggling schedules

Perhaps the biggest challenge associated with working during school is the problem of scheduling. Classes occur at particular times, and depending on the school the student may need to take what they can get during the registration process. Some supervisors understand about people going to school, but others are not as flexible when it comes to scheduling shifts. If work inhibits the ability to stay on track at school, it may become a barrier to finishing school in a reasonable period of time.


There are only so many hours in the day and people have a limited amount of energy. When class time and homework are combined with working hours and commuting, the fatigue can start to take a toll and stress can start to mount. If people get too tired, both work and school may suffer to the point where there is a desire to drop something. Going to school and working is supposed to be tiring, but everyone has his or her limits when it comes to capacity.

Getting distracted

Work can be a necessary means to paying the bills, but it can also become a distraction. What happens when the workplace starts to make more demands? The challenge with working while in school is that more income can become a growing temptation. If people are not careful, they may take on more shifts and start working towards a higher position. There is nothing particularly wrong with this, particularly if a job turns out to be a viable career path. However, if the goal is to go to school and get a degree, it has to be prioritized.

Staying focused on school

The bottom line is that work during school should be a means to an end, and the desire to get a degree has to stay in the forefront. Granted, goals can sometimes change over time. It is good to be optimistic, but students that work should not underestimate the general difficulty of staying focused on their schooling. It takes perseverance to finish a degree and part-time students are always at risk of dropping out due to other issues in their lives.

Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.

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