Working a Job While in College: The Good and Bad

Working a job while in college isn’t uncommon. In fact, data collected in 2007 shows that about 45 percent of full-time college students were working part-time jobs. When you consider that being a full-time college student often equates to about 40 hours a week when you take into account class time, studying, and other requirements, adding a part-time job to the mix might seem like overkill.

Although there are definitely some downsides to working while in college, there are also some positives as well.

Working a job in college: the good and bad | Build career skills as a college student by getting a job and developing work experience that teaches you money management, time management, and more.

Let’s take a look at some of them now:

Learn Time Management

There is no better way to learn time management in college than working a job while you’re a student.


Because you are literally forced to balance multiple things in your schedule so that you 1) maintain a good standing at your school and 2) you don’t get fired from your job.

Now, a lot of students struggle with time management as it is, so this may seem like an impossible skill to master, but the truth is that when your time is more crunched than normal, you actually have to start prioritizing things more, as well as planning out your schedule ahead of time.

Think of it this way, you know you have classes for a set time every week and then you have your work schedule. Those are absolute musts, right? From there, you know that because you’re working, you won’t be able to study certain hours of the day, so you start to fit it into the open areas of your schedule.

Before you know it, you have a planned out week sitting in front of you out of necessity because it’s the only way you’ll be able to stay on top of it all. Additionally, your mind and body start getting into the habit of going to school and work, so you learn how to adapt to these responsibilities.

I dive much deeper into all of this is my course, Stress-Free Scheduling, so be sure to check it out if you really want to master the art of time management as a college student!

Working a job in college: the good and bad | Build career skills as a college student by getting a job and developing work experience that teaches you money management, time management, and more.

Start Paying Off Student Loans and/or Save Money

The most obvious perk of working while in college is getting a paycheck. Who doesn’t enjoy getting money in the bank?!

Now, it can be really tempting to blow your hard-earned money on coffee dates, clothes, and other things, but when used correctly, this money could actually set you up for success in the future.

If you’re part of the majority of college students that have take out some type of student loan, you know that bills are going to start coming once your grace period is over after graduation. Trust me… that comes up quicker than you think!

To help make those future payments a little less of a blow, consider putting money toward them while you’re still a college student. Working a job on-campus or part-time somewhere else might not earn you a ton of a money, but it really is enough to make a difference in the long run (take it from my own experiences of paying over $6,000 in student loan interest ALONE last year).

If you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have any loans, then you may not find as much value in working a job in college, but I would argue against this point.

Imagine graduation looming just a few weeks away and you have dreams of getting into your own place with your own things. Only problem is that you don’t really have much and your dream registry has a hefty price tag attached to it. If you work during your college years, you can start saving money toward these items so that you can start adulthood on the right foot and feel like you have things to call your own.

You could also use the money to take a trip somewhere, travel the world, visit friends, and more!

Working in College Builds Your Resume

If nothing else, working a job in college will no doubt get you skills and experience that you can only get in the workforce. Reading textbooks only does so much – the act of doing something really helps you understand what skills you need to work on, what tasks you like/don’t like doing, and more.

Without work experience, you could go through your entire college years thinking you like the “idea” of a career, only to find out after graduation that you really hate it.

Even if your part-time job doesn’t relate to the career you want to have in the future, you’ll still learn valuable skills that any employer would appreciate seeing on your resume. Things like customer service, problem solving, and learning various software programs can really give you the extra edge you need to land your first job after graduation.

Working a job in college: the good and bad | Build career skills as a college student by getting a job and developing work experience that teaches you money management, time management, and more.

Alright, so now that I’ve laid out of some of the great things working a job in college offers, let’s talk about some of the not-so-good:

Has the Potential to Overwhelm Your Schedule

If you already have a jam-packed schedule and are struggling to keep up in your classes, adding a job to the mix could potentially be the icing on the cake. In this case, you may find yourself burning out, failing assignments, and feeling extremely exhausted regularly. All of these things can be a recipe for disaster! This is a great time to consider a service like BetterHelp. It can help you balance your thoughts and get back on track.

As a student, completing your assignments and passing your classes should be a priority because you’re paying to be there, and there’s nothing worse than not getting credit for something you paid thousands of dollars on.

If you’re already working and noticing that you just can’t balance it all, talk to your boss and see if they’d be willing to cut back your hours or let you take some time off. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to quit your job, but be sure to do so on good terms. This means having a chat with your boss and explaining that while you love working with them, you are struggling in your classes and really need to take some time to focus on them. Most employers understand that college students have other priorities!

Takes Away from the “College Experience”

The moment you add more responsibility to your schedule means that you have to take away from your social life a little bit. For some students, not being able to have the full-on “college experience” of going to sporting events, parties, and campus activities is just unacceptable.

I can understand wanting to be involved on-campus and social gatherings – that’s what college is all about, right? And besides, you only get four years (or so) of this before you have to head off into the real world.

Working a job could take some of that away, though. You have to be willing to tell some friends “no” because you have to work, or you may need to participate in only one club instead of two or three because you have more time constraints with your job.

It’s a sacrifice, and only you can decide if it’s worth it.

As with any decision, there are always pros and cons to consider. Working in college is no different! Personally, I worked two separate part-time jobs in college and volunteered once a week at the YMCA and was still able to participate in intramural sports, a step club, and maintain my grades.

How was I able to do it all?

I prioritized like mad because I wanted to make it all work. It was definitely far from the “traditional” college experience, but it was mine and it worked… and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Do you have any questions or comments about working a job while in college? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

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  • Donna Alcott
    February 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I absolutely agree with everything you’ve said. I, myself, work full-time and combine it with studies. It was really hard in the beginning but now I am able to do so much more. Profound planning helps me achieve my goals. Also, you can check out my tips on writing a CV here –
    I used these tips when created my CV.

    • Tori
      February 17, 2017 at 9:28 am

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks for stopping by! I worked full-time while going to graduate school full-time and it was definitely a challenge, but it wasn’t impossible. Planning can make all the difference!