Working Your First Semester at College, a Do or a Don’t? You Decide

On-campus jobs are always in demand. It seems that no matter how big the college town, it just can’t seem to handle the huge amount of students who are looking for a little bit of extra cash—go figure. But starting a job as soon as you step foot on campus may end up being a bigger stressor and distraction than it should be. Keep reading for the pros and cons of working first-semester.

Pro: $$$
Alright, let’s get the obvious factor out of the way. Whether it is because we have little experience managing our own money, the high cost of tuition or those rising food costs, students are always looking for a couple extra dollars. Don’t get me wrong: if your options are part-time job and a college education or no college education at all, start searching the classifieds now. But if you’re lucky enough to have a family who is willing to support you for a few months or some other form of income, consider the following points as well. 

Con: Taking on too much
College is stressful. Settling in in a new town, finding your campus niche and managing your classes will keep your busier than you think. Plus, a lot of the most rewarding (and resume-friendly) opportunities on campus, won’t be a traditional part-time job- they will be research projects, organization involvement and alumni networking. Add all that in with home-sickness and potential roommate squabbles, and you’ve got a lot on your plate. A part-time job may only add to that stress because, trust me, your boss won’t care if you’re hungover, if your sorority’s impromptu dance is tonight or if your friends are coming in from out of town for [insert your college’s preferred drinking holiday here]. What they will care about is whether your dedicated to your job, so if you’re not 100 percent ready for that commitment, you may want to hold off until first-semester craziness calms down.

Pro: Meeting new people
During the first days of my job at a local apartment complex my sophomore year, I was introduced to my co-workers. Little did I know that one of them would become one of my best friends, and the others would essentially turn into my at-school family over time. One major perk of working on campus is that most of the part-time jobs you’ll find will result in your own personal ready-made social group.

A Compromise: Work-Study/ Assistantships
One of the greatest things about living on campus is that there are tons of opportunities specifically geared toward students. Work-study and assistantship programs typically assist students with the cost of tuition while also sometimes providing a small stipend (read: spending money). They also typically aren’t as demanding of the students schedule, unlike that boss as the local pizza place who will be rather perturbed if you ask to work under 20 hours per week. While assistantships are typically reserved for graduate students, some programs may offer them for upperclassmen as well if funding is available. '

By Kristy Shaulis, University of Illinois


Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!