On vs Off Campus Jobs: Pros and Cons of Employment

So, you’ve settled in to school life, and are starting to get the hang of things around your university. You notice that you have a little extra free time on your hands, and you start to think that you might like to get a job to have extra spending money. Or maybe you’re paying your own way through college, and you know you need to get a part time job in order to continue attending school.

Whatever the case may be, it goes without saying that the decision requires the weighing of many pros and cons. This post will be addressing whether or not you should get a job while attending school, and then discussing the perks and downfalls of both on and off campus employment.

Should I get a job during school?

While getting a part time job may sound enjoyable, employment isn’t all fun and games, nor is it something that should be taken lightly. It’s a big commitment, and while it may seem like a good idea at the time, it isn’t always the case down the road.

  • Do you have a lot of free time?

If you find you have a lot of free time, and feel you are growing bored with simply sitting around your dorm room, getting a part time job somewhere is one option.

  • But what if your schedule gets busier down the road?
  • Or what if you find juggling a job and a full course load, not to mention social activities, too daunting?

You have to be sure that you’re going to be able to stick to your commitment, more or less, because getting and then quitting several jobs not long after doesn’t make you seem very dependable. And somewhere down the road, when you really want or need a job and the interviewer asks why you left the previous one(s), it’s going to reflect poorly on you if you say you couldn’t handle your time well enough, or that it got in the way of a social life.

So, before you commit to a part time job, be sure that you know for sure what you’re getting into, and what you may encounter later in the semester; you’re all intelligent, responsible adults, right? You get the big picture.

  • Are you financing some or all of your education?

Another reason to get a part time job would be if you are paying for some or all of your college education by yourself. Obviously you’re going to need some income to pay the bills on time. Make sure to plan your schedule accordingly so that you have enough time to study and get adequate sleep. While making money to put into your bank account is important, you wouldn’t want your grades or your health to suffer because of it.

If you find yourself too busy already, or if you plan to become involved in many clubs or on campus activities, it may be best to save the jobs for school breaks and summer time, unless absolutely necessary. The last thing you want to do is stretch yourself too thin and not be able to keep up, or worse, have a mental breakdown. Your health and safety comes first.

Pros and Cons of On vs. Off Campus Jobs

There are two main types of jobs you can get as a college student: on campus or off campus employment. They’re pretty straightforward in definition; on campus jobs are through the university itself, and are located, well, on campus. Off campus jobs are through third party companies, like getting a job at a local restaurant or department store. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

  • On Campus Jobs

On Campus jobs can be very convenient; chances are they’ll be a lot closer to your dorm, and often you won’t even have to drive to get there, which is great news if you don’t have a car or don’t want to spend so much on gas. On campus employers are used to working with college students. They know that your schoolwork comes first, and will do their best to work around your class schedule. Also, you won’t have to worry about trying to figure out how to work during school breaks when the campus is closed, or else trying to find someone who is willing to take your hours. They also understand that many of people haven’t had jobs before, and don’t hire based on amount of experience, as opposed to nearly all other employers.

However, there are many down sides to on campus employment as well. For one thing, it is very limited, and the jobs that are available are often very competitive; there will be lots of people applying and interviewing for it as well as you. On top of that, many on campus jobs are only available through work study programs, so if you don’t qualify for those on the FAFSA, then many times you’re out of luck. The jobs also often have limited hours, or a maximum amount you can work per week. Most of the time, on campus jobs pay only minimum wage, but that varies from school to school.

  • Off Campus Jobs

Off campus jobs offer more freedom; there are many more places to choose from, especially in a college town (assuming they are hiring, of course). You can often work as many hours as you see fit, and there are opportunities for advancement and raises that might not occur in on campus employment.

Though, of course, you must wrestle with the fact that you often need experience in the field before someone will hire you. Plus, many times off campus jobs are more than walking distance away from your dorm, so you need to either have your own car, or be able to take a bus or some form of public transportation to your employer. You will be working (most likely) with people other than college students, which could be a negative or a positive, depending on how you look at it.

Job hunting is difficult in this economy, but if you keep an open mind and keep applying to everything you can find, you’re bound to get a break sooner or later.

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Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth Benson is a freshman at Central Michigan University, currently pursuing a degree in Journalism. Elizabeth is a member of the CMU Honors Program, and is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life, the student run campus newspaper. When she’s not in school, she can usually be found reading, writing, or watching movies, and enjoys traveling and performing in plays.
Elizabeth Benson

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2 Responses to “On vs Off Campus Jobs: Pros and Cons of Employment”

  • Amber Bray

    Amber Bray on December 31, 2012

    This is something that I have definitely struggled with. I have had both on-campus and off-campus employment, and sometimes I have had both at the same time. Unfortunately rent and tuition do not pay themselves. It really just depends on how flexible your schedule is and how much money you need to make. I found that my on campus jobs were more flexible (I could work in one or two hour spurts throughout the day) but I made more money with off campus jobs.

  • Kassi Luja on December 31, 2012

    Great idea for a post! I had always thought about getting a job but worried about how it would fit into my schedule. Last year I got a job at my college’s student newspaper so having that on campus was great. It was close to a lot of my classes and my co-workers are my classmates so I love it. It doesn’t pay a lot, but it’s definitely rewarding. Plus, not having a car made an on-campus job the easier option for me.

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