A Balancing Act: Is having a job in college too much to juggle?
College is a difficult time for young adults. It’s a vital, four-year transition period that challenges students to be independent and hold themselves accountable for their actions in preparation for what’s to come after graduation. Assignments are lengthy and tedious, exams are extremely important and challenging, searching and applying for internships can be difficult and confusing… the list could go on and on. Trying to balance all of these academic demands with our social lives and that thing that we so often neglect and forget about, sleep, can be really hard for college students. These tasks in themselves are difficult enough to juggle as is. However, for some students, there is another large factor that’s added to the equation, sometimes making it near impossible not to drop the ball. This added stress is employment.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that having a job here has negatively impacted my school work,” Junior Kelley Nelson explains. “But it has definitely made it more stressful.”
Nelson, a Psychology major at Bloomsburg University, works on campus at the Phonathon. She sits in Waller Business Administration for three to three and a half hours, three times a week contacting alumni for donations to the school. Nelson explains that working at a desk on campus fortunately allows her the time to complete basic assignments while she is on the clock, but it is impossible for her to write a paper or study.
“It definitely does make me stress out more,” Nelson says. “Just because it takes three and a half hours away from time that could be spent studying, and because after work I’m usually tired and not in the mood to do it.”
Nelson says that she chose to work at the Phonathon because of its short shifts, low amount of required hours per week (ten), and the fact that it allows her to get some work done. She did say, however, that during her busy weeks with school work, she has felt that if she didn’t have a job at school, she would have more time to study and would have done better on a test or paper.
When asked if she thought that having her own money is worth the sacrifice that she has to make sometimes for school, Nelson immediately replied with, “Yes, definitely, especially since I have to support myself completely. But I feel like having a job has also taught me better time management skills, so I don’t have to make sacrifices as often.”
Olivia Nieves, who works off campus as a waitress at RoseMarie’s Restaurant on Main Street, feels much differently.
“Working has gotten in the way of my school work in terms of group projects and exams. Sometimes, if I have a really busy week and I can’t get anyone to cover my shift, I might spend five hours working that I could have better spent studying,” Nieves says.
Nieves, who also happens to be a Psychology major and a junior at Bloomsburg University, explains that she already procrastinates to begin with, so having a job has not helped with her already packed schedule of writing papers, completing group work, and studying for exams.
“It’s nice to have money,” Nieves says. “But it’s really difficult to balance both accordingly. I’d much rather be less stressed and have less to spend.”
Nieves does not believe that the cash she earns at RoseMarie’s is worth the additional academic stress and sacrifice, but says that she has to continue working at school for financial reasons. She may, however, request less hours in the Fall.
“I really need to focus more on school next semester,” Nieves says. “The increase in my hours at work definitely reflects the lower grades I’m pulling this semester.”
With so much added stress to students who have jobs while away at college, Nieves mentioned that she wondered if professors understood how much pressure students dealing with this additional factor are truly under.
“I think we, as teachers, forget sometimes how much students really have on their plates,” professor Rose Mencel at Temple University admits. “However, it seems, ironically, that students who are forced to balance a job and school work actually end up doing better than those who do not.”
Mencel says that she believes even if a student does not recognize how much they are learning from having to juggle school and work, most put an unconscious pressure on themselves to succeed in both, which ends up greatly benefitting them in the end.
Maintaining a job throughout college is definitely a difficult thing for students to handle. It’s an added stress to the already hectic schedules of college students. Some find it worth the headache, while others do not, however it may provide benefits to students that they aren’t even aware of. The key is to manage your time, try to relax, and do the best that you can with the time that you have.
A Potential Happy Medium
It seems that having a job on campus versus off campus is easier to manage, however Olivia Nieves receives much higher financial compensation as a waitress in town than Kelley Nelson does as an operator at the Phonathon on campus. Does a happy medium exist?
Kristin Griffith, a junior here at Bloomsburg studying Mass Communications, believes that it does. Griffith makes a two hour commute to her hometown every weekend to work at a sports bar called The Stadium North. She is a bartender and works from 6 p.m. until about 4 a.m. on Saturday nights and from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday afternoons.
“People think that I’m crazy for making the drive home every single Saturday to work for two days,” Griffith explains. “But I honestly have the best of both worlds by doing so.”
Griffith averages anywhere from $350-500 a weekend. She doesn’t have to leave Bloomsburg until 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and can usually make it back by 9 p.m. Sunday evening.
“The only time that I’m really giving up is a Saturday night of drinking and a Sunday of being hungover,” Griffith says. “Working hasn’t affected my school work, because I have enough time Friday and Saturday afternoon, as well as Sunday night to complete my work. Yeah, I’m tired sometimes when I get back on Sundays, but if that’s the case, I just go to bed as soon as I get back to school and wake up really early the next morning.”
Griffith explains that it wasn’t always that easy for her to adjust and manage her time, but she has had this schedule since her freshman year of college, so it’s something she has been able to develop over the past two years.
“For me, it’s definitely worth it,” Griffith says. “I make killer money, and I’ve made Dean’s List the past two semesters. Sure, I get stressed sometimes, but I’ve accepted the fact that this is what I need to do to survive, so I take it in stride and make it work.”