Those few hours of free time that college students encounter on a daily, or perhaps weekly, basis are a highly treasured commodity.
What is done with this free time varies from student to student, but it seems that the biggest rift lies between those full-time students who hold a job and those who do not. Students are faced with that age-old question, does one sacrifice those hours of freedom to earn a couple of bucks, or does one give up that much needed money, bury their destitute face in a pillow, and take a nap?
In a 2001 Continuing Student Survey administered by Temple University’s Office for the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Students, only 21 percent of those students polled did not hold a job. Of the others, 38 percent said that they worked more than 20 hours a week.
Temple sophomore psychology major Lauren Weaver belongs to the latter group, electing to work as a waitress for Outback Steakhouse in Jenkintown, a 40-minute commute from campus. Weaver said that although her 30-hour-a-week work schedule left her with very little free time, she feels the positive effects of her job outweigh the stress.
“Holding a job is a wise decision. I’ve learned to manage my time and develop a good work ethic, plus I am making the money I need to put myself through college,” Weaver said.
Another option for those who want or need to hold down a job is to look for employment on campus. According to the 2001 National Survey of Student Engagement, Temple seniors who work on campus average five hours of work a week,
compared to those employed off campus, who work an average of 11-15 hours a week.
Joanne Kim, a junior biology major, chose to add an on campus job to her already hectic schedule this semester. Kim is employed as a biology lab assistant. She said that extra money was never a factor in her decision to take a job.
“My job is academically helpful because it’s teaching me about biology. If I were working only to make money, I’d be wasting academic time,” Kim said. “It’s not a matter of money for me, it’s a matter of education.”
Mike Lalli, a junior majoring in American studies, agrees with Kim that a job should not be about money, but about furthering one’s education.
“If I absolutely needed the money, of course I would take a job. But I also think that when you’re at school you should be focused on studying,” said Lalli.
Lalli added that he would choose free time over making extra pocket money. “Less free time would make me less focused. If I had a job I feel like I would turn my study time into free time,” he said.
Whether students are holding jobs to put themselves through college, enhancing their education or just making a few extra bucks, they must be sure that it does not come at the cost of their academics or their sanity. When students find
themselves getting stressed out, the obvious solution is to cut back.
Junior geography and urban studies major Joy Semke gave up one of her two jobs sophomore year in order to spare her mental health.
“After a while it became a necessity for me to try to get all my school work done on the weekends, which was impossible … because by the time Friday came, I was so spent. All I could do was lay on the floor and stare at the rug,” Semke
said. “My stress level has definitely gone down now. I think, sometimes, I can even form whole sentences.”
Alix Gerz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org