University Buzz

Working while Studying. A Necessary Evil?


In the United States, many students choose to work to supplement their education loans, scholarships, and grants. However, there's evidence that a large number of people are committed to hours that have a negative effect on their studies. With the cost of attending university increasing by more than a quarter over the past decade, it's debatable whether there's any true solution to the declining work/studying balance.

Working while Studying. A Necessary Evil?
(Photo : Pexels)

Examining figures from Statista and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that 17% of full-time students in the U.S. work 20-34 hours per week while 11% are employed for 35 hours or more. Combined, that's almost a third. These numbers are above the threshold where GPA begins to decline. Students working less than 20 hours per week have an average GPA of 3.13 but anything above that number can see GPA fall to 2.95.

Unfortunately, this scenario perpetuates the cycle of less advantaged students struggling to achieve their goals at college, as they're likely to face the most pressure to work while studying for their degree. This group is usually eligible for more financial assistance from the government but this kind of help comes with its own set of concerns that, once again, mean that working full-time can be a necessary evil for large parts of the population.

Sports and Leisure

Other casualties of a poor work/studying balance include sports and leisure. Only a fifth of Americans participate in regular physical activity due to other commitments, with the average student working 2.3 hours a day having four hours to participate in sports. The opportunity to learn the extra skills, such as picking up an extra language, that students need to start their careers can also take a hit. This outcome can cause problems in the future. 

Working while Studying. A Necessary Evil?
(Photo : Pexels)

Language platform Preply claims that learning a new language is a skill that can help students get their first job post-graduation. Overall, excluding non-native demographics, Americans are not a bilingual nation but an increasing number of companies rely on their employees to enable conversations with businesses around the world. The growth in e-commerce means that even new companies can have a global customer base from day one.

The worry for many students is that the education system seems to be geared towards students taking out loans. The United States' low minimum wage, which hasn't changed since 2009, means that anybody attempting to finance a college degree on work alone could fall between $1,000 and $24,000 short of a year's tuition fees, depending on the type of institution that they attend, chiefly, public or private.

Overall, it's difficult to see how the average student can get away with attending university and not entering employment at the same time. Work-study programs offering on-campus positions do alleviate some of the headaches associated with applying for jobs but there's still an unpleasant decision to be made. Does the student pick between acceptable grades or a decent standard of living?

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