Working in School: What You Need to Know
Working while taking classes is a juggling act.
Thankfully, I went to clown college. — Catherine Brahan
Should you work and go to school? It’s a loaded topic, and it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a student.
Student Workers vs. Working Students
One of the biggest splits in the school/work divide is the concept of the “student worker” versus the “working student.” The student worker is one that is primarily a student, and is working for extra money or experience. The working student primarily identifies as a member of the workforce, but is also taking classes.
The student worker’s paramount goal should be to successfully complete their education. The student worker may have other financial goals or needs, but mastering course material should be one’s top priority. Some student workers seek out internships, campus jobs, or other work to supplement their education or income during school.
Education is easy to disregard for the working student. Their main focus is their career, and school usually ranks lower on their priority list. Education, for the working student, is a luxury. Working students should remain focused on the reasons that they entered college (online or otherwise) in the first place: to better their lives and open their minds.
Working in School: The Benefits
- Extra Money. If you’re primarily a student, working your way through school can net you some extra cash.
- Work Ethic. Even if you’re a study star, it’s always beneficial to flex your work ethic muscle. Being busy and having a packed schedule can help keep you focused.
- Résumé Builder. If you can work and go to school, you’re doing yourself a great favor. Most people either work or go to school. If you can do both successfully, you’ll place yourself ahead of the curve — now and in the future.
- Class Credit. While some argue that internships aren’t necessarily valuable, getting class credit for real-world work has long been a staple of higher education. Most internships that award class credit do not offer any financial compensation.
Working in School: The Drawbacks
- Stress. If you’re not great at coping with lots of demands, working while also taking classes could be too stressful to juggle. You’ve got to stick to a schedule for both commitments, and it will be blatantly obvious if you’re not happy. Make sure that you know your limits, and know when and where you’ll require flexibility.
- There’s always a trade-off. If you’re budgeting your time perfectly, you’ll have just enough for classes, work, study, and a social life. But no one does it right all the time. Be mindful that your work demands don’t overshadow your school demands, and (when appropriate) vice versa. One of the best pieces of advice I consistently offer the world is this: Time is true currency. Spend it wisely.
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