Well, maybe not “the” million dollar question, but as a college student it does help to have a little extra cash in your pocket. Plus, working in college not only teaches you how to balance your life, but it also teaches you responsibility.

Before I went to college, I had this idea in my 18-year-old head that my parents should support me while I “ride the waves,” as they say. However, my father told me something that still sticks with me today: You’re never going to learn how to grow up if you’re constantly thinking that everyone else should pay for your “wants” instead of your “needs”.

Needless to say, at the time I was shocked they were saying this to me. I thought to myself, ‘Well, now I see who wants to kick me out of the house!’ But, I later realized that my parents were right. I have always been given everything I needed and wanted, but now it’s time to start growing up and learning some responsibility.

Are you able to even work with a full class load?
Of course! I began working as a freshman, and at the time I was taking 18 credits while majoring in both English writing and music. Crazy, right? Yes, but I learned very quickly that money surely does NOT grow on trees!

Can working in college help me after I graduate?
Actually, I can’t think of a better way for you to learn valuable job skills. You learn about how to work with people, manage your time, organize important documents and so much more. Plus, you can add your work experience to your growing resume, which is also a nice incentive!

Will this affect my grades?
Many students who work find that their grades improve due to their constant focus. A job forces you to make important decisions that you normally wouldn’t make if you have the extra free time. When you work 20 hours a week, you really don’t have the extra time to sit around and watch television all day. Besides, the only reason your grades would be affected is if you either a) spend too many hours at your job or b) poorly manage your time. The person in control of your academics in the end is you.

What else can working in college help me with?
Well, for starters, how about your tuition? Statistics show that over 90 percent of all college students either have to borrow money, take out a loan or have their parents pay for tuition that isn’t supported by financial aid. So know that you’re not alone in the pool. Many universities will offer an option for students to have their work study money go towards their tuition if you choose to work on campus. And if you don’t work on campus, learning to set a certain amount of your money aside for your education can quickly add up.

In the end, having a job in college is tough. Trust me, I know. However, the reward is great and the final outcome is even better. Taking the necessary steps to work in college can better prepare you for a job after college, graduate school and can teach you valuable lessons that you will need for the rest of your life. Never pass up an opportunity to grow and learn just because you don’t want to put in the necessary effort.


I’m reading Annual Editions: Physical Anthropology 11/12