Look around folks. We’re dropping like flies. With student employment rates rising, scholars are succumbing to the overwhelming stress of trying to juggle work with school.
Recent studies have shown that up to 75 percent of college students have some sort of employment while attending a four-year school. Even more startling is the fact that in 2002 nearly 25 percent of students held full-time jobs. The pressures created from these situations are astounding, and I wonder: How do we survive?
For an employed student such as myself, time management becomes a way of life. Having two part-time jobs doesn’t make my social life all that social, but work is essential. A 1996 survey by the Department of Education showed that working students put in an average of 25 hours per week. Between this and class, little time is left for the working student to study, socialize and relax. This is why as you look around Temple’s campus you see so many tense faces and sweaty palms. The majority of us are ticking time-bombs ready for a nervous breakdown.
That same 1996 survey showed that 55 percent of students working full-time feel that it has a negative effect on their studies. These effects range from limited class selection to a lack of access to the school library. Temple’s Paley Library attempts to accommodate the working student with extended hours, but sometimes that isn’t even enough. Often the only time for the working student to get schoolwork done is during the early morning hours when resources are not readily available. Paley Library closes at midnight, so late workers are not able to get their hands on important books or magazines only available in print.
In some cases, students are forced to forfeit desired classes because they don’t fit into their work schedule, with this often resulting in a failure to even complete college. Those students who are able to successfully balance full-time work with school tend to suffer from lower GPAs.
Temple students emit a feeling of exhaustion. We are overworked and overstressed, and we wonder how we ever got this way. In 1985, only 50 percent of college students were employed. That number has since spiked 25 percentage points, as parental expectations and financial burdens become more stifling. Because of rising tuition costs that cannot effectively be handled by parents, students are expected to buffer the excess with their own income. We work because we feel we have to, and in many cases this is true. We don’t get enough aid, our scholarships are too low, and because of this our academic career is forced to suffer.
Fortunately, there are proven ways to balance work and school. I’ve found success in on-campus employment. This levies transportation fees and makes it faster to get to and from work. This saved time can be effectively used later for homework. The key is to plan your time and not to overload yourself, even if this means adapting to a less costly lifestyle. Can I remember the last time that I went out to the movies? No, but I do remember the five dollars I saved by renting instead. And when you think about it, those five dollars are almost an hour’s pay. Being a penny pincher is not an altogether bad thing, and yes, dollar store food is edible – so dig in.
For Temple students who are forced to go to school and juggle a part- or full-time job, life can feel like an oppressive fog. With tuition costs unlikely to be going down anytime soon, the need for students to work will be sticking around. Time management and choice of job can help ease the pressure, but the burden of work stays with students. But, as my parents often remind me, working your way through college can be a rewarding experience, preparing students for the future. Regrettably, that future will center around one thing, more work.
Jacqueline D’Ercole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.