The college student’s part-time job

part-time jobOnce your student enrolls and registers for classes, you have many decisions that must be made. One of the first is whether or not a paying job is wise for your student. This will need to be a mutual decision between you and your child. Whether your student needs a job to finance tuition payments or to accumulate spending money, here are some factors you should consider.

We asked our sons NOT to work their freshman year. We wanted them to concentrate first on adjusting to college level work, roommates (plural), dorm life, and doing their own laundry before taking on the responsibility of a part-time job. Since both planned to take part in marching band, we worried that the 8 hours of class time each week and the 8-10 hour commitment on game day would be enough of a burden that first semester.

As with any job, your student must consider his/her previous experience, skill level, and time commitment. On-campus jobs may include dining hall work, answering phones in a departmental office, tutoring math or English or leading tours for prospective students and parents. Our older son chose to work in campus dining halls for four reasons:

  1. the pay was similar to off-campus jobs,
  2. the job was right next door–not a tedious walk in winter,
  3. it paid a bonus of $65-$70 if you worked all semester, and,
  4. more importantly, they worked around his final exams!

Managers of on-campus jobs recognize that a student’s first priority is schoolwork. Finals week found an open schedule posted which allowed students to sign up for the hours that worked around their exams and study periods.

Off-campus jobs sometimes pay more per hour; however, they may require transportation that goes beyond the reach of the campus bus line. While not an issue for students with cars, this can present problems for students attending schools with strict “no cars on campus” policies.

We’ve also heard of off-campus jobs that require students to continue their work schedule during spring and summer breaks (incurring extra costs for housing). While not all off-campus jobs are this demanding or unreasonable, your student needs to ask such questions before committing to a job. School administrators often state that students “can apply today and be placed in a job the same evening.” Know, however, that your student will need to have his/her original Social Security card when applying for a job, and, if under the age of 18, may also need a work permit.

We’re hoping that Michael decides to work on campus his sophomore year. If he does well first semester, we may relent and allow him to work sooner. We know it would be a good experience for him, as well as a way to minimize the calls home requesting spending money.

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Financial Decisions