All students should work during college

by Emily Goodell

College is a busy time for everyone. There are assignments to do, tests to take, extracurricular involvements to manage and friendships to maintain. The last problem a college student needs is another obligation, right?

Whether a parent(s) or legal guardian(s) is financing the student’s education in part or in full or the student is paying the balance themselves, employment during college is important. 

Many students are already working. According to the U.S. Department of Education in 2014, more than 78 percent of undergraduate students have some form of employment during their college career. That being said, the benefit received from working as a student should be a priority to all students.

Working during school makes successful students, according to a 2015 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, “Learning While Earning: e New Normal.” The study found that obtaining early work experience establishes good habits like time management and budgeting and allow students to make connections that will be useful in their future careers.

According to Whitworth’s website, 69 percent of Whitworth students receive federal student loans while at Whitworth. Considering that the average student loan repayment for 20 to 30 year olds was $351 a month in 2015, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Consumer Credit Panel, lowering student loan debt is crucial to a student’s future financial well-being.

One counterargument against student employment is the constrained amount of time students have which prohibits them from working; however, there are ways to mitigate that problem.

According to BTIG research, the average Netflix subscriber consumes two hours of television or movies per day. According to a study done by Geoffrey Graybeal, a media and communications professor at Texas Tech University, nine out of 10 college students use Netflix. Using those numbers, it can be inferred that 90 percent of college students spend more than 10 hours a week watching Netflix.

The above number does not include non-required reading, social media usage, cable TV or time spent with friends. This does not mean that any of those things are bad or that they are things that do not have value, but they are things that could be decreased in order to make room for a job.

The minimum wage in Washington is $9.47, according to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. If a Whitworth student worked 10 hours a week for a month, approximately two hours a weekday, before taxes are taken out, that student would make $378.

That may not seem like much money to some people, and it is a lot to others, but it is money that a student earns themselves to do with what they want. The more money they have saved up, the easier it will be to maintain personal and financial stability in the future. Sickness, theft or accidents could happen that would require extra funds. Or a student could be offered an opportunity for service, study abroad or vacation for which they have insufficient funds.

Regardless of a student’s current financial status, the future is uncertain. Although money is not the sole measure of happiness or success in the world, life is easier for people when they know that they have enough money saved up to deal with worst case scenarios.

Another argument against student employment is that it negatively impacts students’ grades, but according to a joint study by Ohio University and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that is not the case. This study found that the average GPA of freshmen at four-year universities who worked one to 20 hours per week was 3.13, and those students who were not employed had an average GPA of 3.04. This means that working some during college can positively impact a student’s GPA.

However, the study also found that working more than 20 hours a week was detrimental to academics. Freshmen who worked over 20 hours a week had an average GPA of 2.95. This means that whether student employment positively or negatively affects GPA is determined by the amount of hours worked per week.

A final concern about students working is feasibility of finding and keeping a job while in school. Concerns like transportation, availability and the job market are not unfounded, but are manageable and will result in a return investment in the future.

Eventually most students will be living alone on their own dime. Even if that is not currently the case, it is good to start learning how to do it now.

Having a job is hard. Having a job and going to school is harder. Balancing life and work and school and everything else on a student’s plate is hard. Though it may be harder to have a job while in school, it is manageable and profitable in the long run. 

Contact Emily Goodell at