College jobs: yea or nay?

As a student in high school, a few people had jobs, but it wasn’t the nearly mandatory provision it has become for university students. With the beginning of class right around the corner, students are beginning to feel the pressure of tuition and books and fees piling up. Many turn to part-time or full-time jobs as an alternative to crippling loans.

The question is whether it is worth all the trouble of balancing a heavy workload with a full load of college courses. I believe the answer to this question is—it depends. The key to managing any kind of career—whether it is the pursuit of a university degree or working your way up the corporate ladder—is time management.

The best way to start out is comparing your class schedule with your work schedule and setting aside specific times to study for each class. Make sure you don’t put yourself down to read the difficult organic chemistry right after a long shift. Keep the hardest subjects for when your mind is fresh, and you’ll be less likely to fall asleep on your books.

Having a job can be great way to develop responsibility and mature your money management skills, provided you don’t take the extra money and spend it all. Oftentimes students don’t truly realize the value of the dollar until they have the opportunity to work for themselves and end up realizing that in order to purchase those $200 Beats headphones, they have to work over 20 hours. While splurging occasionally is by no means a bad thing, having to pay for such luxuries without the help of your parents’ credit card makes you think twice before exceeding your set budget.

Something to look for when job searching is making sure you find a position that will help you on your way towards your degree. Even if you can’t get the hands on experience you really want, try to find something in the field you’re aspiring towards. For example, if you want to become a doctor but cannot find any open positions, take on a secretarial job in a hospital or doctor’s office. Prove your work ethic before talking to your supervisor to see what you can do about upgrading to the position you feel would give you the opportunity to train and refine your skills.

The great thing about being able to manage a job and an education at the same time is it looks great on your resume while applying for graduate school. Make sure your job provides some sort of training that gives you specific skills that can be cited to admissions officers, thus improving your chances of getting into your desired school. Puffing is always expected on a resume, but in the case of future employers or schools looking into those facts you provided, make sure that your boasting can be backed up with the skills you mention.

Keep a mindful eye on your GPA and remember that while it’s great having a position that pays the bills, your education should be your first priority. Don’t let your grades slip because you can make $20 a night in tips. A job is a good thing to have, but keep your eye focused on the big picture and the many doors that a university degree can open for you.