Many students head off to college knowing that, in addition to their academic work – and possibly their sports or other activities – they will need to have a job. The costs of attending college are high – and growing. In addition to tuition and room and board, there are extra fees, expensive textbooks, and living expenses. We can help our students think through factors to consider as they decide what kind of job they may want – and a major question of whether to work on campus or off campus.
Thinking about a job at college
The first, and most important, caution is for your student to remember that, if they are a full-time student, they have made a major commitment to their schoolwork. Although your student may be spending relatively few hours in class, a full-time student has taken on the equivalent of a full-time job.
A general rule of thumb is that students should expect to spend two hours on coursework for each hour that they spend in class. So, for example, if your college student is registered for 15 credits (approximately 15 hours/week in class) then they should be doing approximately 30 hours of work outside of class – for a total of 45 hours of schoolwork. Of course, this is an average and the demands will vary each week, but when considering how many hours per week your student can commit to a job, they need to be realistic about their schedule. If your student is playing a sport, or involved in some other major activity, they will need to consider that time commitment as well. Several studies have suggested that students who work more than 20 hours a week may have a lower GPA.
Here are some factors your student should think about as they consider work opportunities.