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Make Money in College: The Pros and Cons of Having a Job While in College

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College tuition is getting more expensive by the day, while the chances of actually getting a good job afterwards are getting slimmer, so more and more students are tying to make money in college.

I was one of these students more than a decade ago.

College wasn’t that expensive here (compared to how student loans have skyrocketed in the US for instance), but it wasn’t cheap either. I’d have to work about 5 months to afford one year in college (based on my initial salary).

Even if my folks were ready to support me (as much as possible) and even pay for at least a part of my college tuition, I decided, as soon as I was admitted, that I won’t let them take on the entire ‘load‘.

So, I started working since graduating high-school and never stopped ever since.

Earning a salary during college allowed me to have NO student loans at all (I had debt for something else – and it was hard), earn my money and also have an irreplaceable working experience that put me way ahead of my peers. When they graduated and struggled with getting a job, I had 5 years under my ‘belt’, my own show (worked as a radio DJ) and a lot of experience in my field.

The cons of having a job during college

I’ll start with the ‘ugly’ part of having a full time job and also attending college:

  • It’s a HUGE effort – if you want to study properly and also not let anyone down at your job, you’ll work your bottom off in both cases. My ‘day’ would mean getting at 8 at the radio station, staying till noon there, then going to the Uni for the remaining hours. At 8 in the evening I’d also attend some karate classes and get back home well after 10 PM. I was gone for 12-14 hours/day and it was hard.
  • It’s a health risk – I would eat all kinds of crap for the first months and started having some signs of gastritis. Fortunately, this was a waking call for me, so I made an effort to cut down on the Coke and junk-food. The results were great, in just 2-3 weeks my stomach aches were gone.
  • It’s stressful – I had a full time job, I had a full time college schedule. Of course, I had to choose – so I’d skip many morning classes (one cannot ‘skip’ work too much, right?). Keeping up with the classes and also trying to also do my job was stressful.

The pros of having a job during college

Fortunately for me the benefits outgrew all my challenges and working during college was actually an amazing experience for me.

  • You earn money – I had a REAL job, with a REAL salary. This allowed me to pay off my college tuition and also buy the stuff I wanted as a 20 year old woman.
  • Graduation with no debt (or at least not as much) – earning money while also going to the Uni allowed me to never have to worry about student loans. Instead of starting my life with huge debt, I could just enjoy my life and not have to worry about something like this.
  • Experience – 4-5 years of actual work experience are HUGE. I didn’t even have to worry about finding a job (the radio station was doing OK, so my job wasn’t in any danger), but I did have enough experience to get a new job ASAP, if needed. Most of my college mates had to accept low paying jobs at first, while I was already one of the most important ‘showmen‘ at the station.
  • Sense of accomplishment – I always loved to work hard and not waste time. One could call me a workaholic, I’m just someone who loves what she does and wants to do it as much as possible. Even if keeping my full time job during college was a pretty serious challenge, I was very proud of myself and happy to do it. I got a great job and had the chance to study as well.

Would I advise college students to try earn money? YES. If you can keep a full time job, it’s great. If you can freelance by the side or just have a small part time job, that’s also gonna help a lot.

I’d say that most students (unless you go to a really tough college – say Medical School), could also work on the side. I do know people who studied to be doctors and also worked full time, but they were exceptionally bright and focused. Let’s be honest, not all people can go through such an experience.

Yet, if the college schedule is not that challenging, then, getting a small side-hustle or a job might really do the trick for you as well.

12 COMMENTS

    • I totally agree with you! Working in the same field as your studies is a great help. Not only you do what you love (if you’re studying it, you most likely have a passion for it), but you gain the much-needed experience employers ask for. And of course, you’re financially independent.

  1. I have also worked during college, but I have to say, it was quite difficult, especially during the exam sessions. It wasn’t the job per se that was stressful, but the schedule: I would work nights (well, very late evenings, but still!) and would study and attend courses during the day.

    I’m not sorry I made this choice though. I had my financial independence and didn’t have to beg for money from my parents to buy the things I wanted. Clothes especially (we have very different opinions on what I should or should not wear).

  2. Having a part time job during college is a plus. What is not mentioned enough is that employers look for more than just good grades, they look for real world experience. You can’t pay thousands of dollars for real world experience. That maybe why some have to except low paying jobs after college vs doing it from freshman year to later qualify for a better job after graduation.

    • It drives me bonkers to find out how many employers are asking for work experience. Hello, they’re grads, their own ‘job’ so far was to actually graduate the darn college. What work experience can someone have?

      It’s indeed very tough for students to focus properly on their studies (not to mention most pay a fortune for the diploma) and also get work experience to get hired.
      Ramona recently posted…The 11 Top Benefits of Having a Company BlogMy Profile

  3. Making money in college is very important, IMO. First of all, who doesn’t need money? 😀 heh… and second, I think starting as soon as possible to work and earn, even if a little bit (like, internships which are often underpaid), teaches students about financial responsibility.

    • I think that it also prepares you a little more for the real world. I know when I graduated I heard from a lot of other people complain at how hard grad school was, because they had to work too. Well, I was all too used to that already so I found it pretty easy.

  4. I’d say it’s important that one starts working as soon as possible, and college seems like the perfect period! This is how I see it. Of course, working while in college should be a positive experience, and not something that could possibly make you give up on your studies! This is a very important aspect, I’d say!

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