Opinions | The pros and cons of working through college

Working students do not always have it easy, but their self-sufficiency has many benefits.


Matt Sindt

Photo illustration by Matt Sindt.

Katie Perkins, Opinions Contributor

I have traded blood cells for spending money, participated in lengthy research studies for an extra $20, emptied purses, pockets, and couch cushions with my fingers crossed and my stomach growling, and have had up to three part time jobs at the same time.

Though being financially independent in college is not always ideal, it provides students with life and work readiness skills that will greatly benefit them in the future.

It isn’t always easy to work and maintain decent grades simultaneously, but I have found that having to be self-sufficient has many positives.

I will be leaving college with more than just a degree. I’ll leave with fundamental life skills and a work ethic that I am sure will benefit me in the future.

It is not always easy to be this positive when feeling broke and overwhelmed, but it is important to remember that this is only temporary and that we are working towards a better future.

Recent studies have shown that those who work through their college years tend to have more success in later careers.

In my experience, I have found that my grades are better when my work schedule is heavier because it forces me to finish assignments in the windows of time that I do have. I must be more disciplined when I have responsibilities and commitments I cannot break or be flexible about.

About 70 percent of students will work as college students. Having bosses that understand this reality and able to be flexible around midterms or finals, for example, definitely helps with the balance.

There are some negatives when it comes to working through college. Some students might work because they want extra spending money, while others work because they have to. Though both have busy schedules, it is not equal.

Many of us who live this way grew up in a financially unstable household, and living paycheck to paycheck is likely nothing new. Those who do not come from money are accustomed to sacrifice. Having to work harder than friends or be wiser about saving is all part of the hustle we know so well.

Being responsible for finances at a young age without the help of others teaches college students the importance of hard work. Learning this before entering the real-world work force will set them up for financial success in the future.

It is not ideal to be without certain resources, and of course the economic disparity in this country is a terrible and multilayered issue, but this hustle is something to be respected and proud of.

The lessons I have learned from my part-time jobs in college have taught me lessons through experience, something my classes cannot do. On busy nights at the restaurant, I serve at I have learned the importance of teamwork; babysitting for two surgeons made it necessary for me to be on time; and working at a daycare taught me patience. All three of these jobs taught me independence and financial responsibility.

Not coming from money means being appreciative of every opportunity received. Many of us here on scholarship or financial aid perhaps feared college was a luxury we could never afford.

Amazingly enough, here we are, taking classes, learning life skills, and working hard.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.