Paying for College: How You Can “Work” It Out

You’ve exhausted all of your financial aid resources and you still don’t have all of the funds necessary to afford college…what now?  Get a J-O-B…

The most common thing that people talk about when it comes to the topic of college is how much fun it is.  While this is generally true, most college students also work (at least part-time) while they are enrolled in school to help pay the costs associated with college attendance.  Some students choose to work on-campus, while others venture off-campus to local restaurants or shops.

Take It or Leave It

Bottom line, you can’t be picky when seeking a job.  It’s highly unlikely that you’ll have experience to be selective, so you should probably take whatever job you’re offered and work your butt off to save money.  Remember, the purpose of getting a job is to help pay for your college tuition and other related expenses.

Prioritize Your Schedule

Going to school full-time is a full-time job in itself, so having another actual job (even if it’s part-time) will be tough…but it’s doable if you prioritize your schedule.  You have to be super organized and make sure you plan ahead in order to get homework assignments done on time.  You must also let your employer know that you are in school upfront and that he or she may need to be flexible with your hours around mid-terms or finals time.

Don’t Over Do It

Be careful not to take on too many hours at work.  Not only will this prove to be very stressful, but research says that students who work full-time are less likely to graduate on-time and earn lower grades than those who work part-time.  Try to keep your hours to around 15-20 per week.  Students who average this amount of hours per week tend to be able to balance work and college.

More Bang For Your Buck…

Seeking a job at a café or restaurant is a great way to earn a lot of money in a short amount of time since you can earn tips during each of your shifts.  Servers also learn a lot of valuable skills that can be used post-graduation – multi-tasking, working well under pressure and communication skills.

Another non-traditional way that students pay for college is by becoming an RA (resident advisor).  This position typically won’t become an option until sophomore year, but RA’s typically get their campus housing expenses paid for and they receive a small stipend to cover some additional costs.  To learn more about the RA position, read my post: What Is A Resident Advisor?

Experience Builder

While getting a job to pay for college might not be ideal, it can definitely help you gain experience and build your resume.  If you’re lucky enough to land an internship or job in the field you plan to enter after graduation, then this is an added bonus.  If not, you can always use the general skills that you gain from any job and apply that to the next one (i.e. customer service, communication skills, attention to detail, etc.).

Explore Other Opportunities

We all know that a part-time job won’t be able to fund your entire college education, but it can serve as a supplemental financial resource.  Don’t stop trying to seek out additional sources of financial aid after you get a job.  You should continue searching for grants and scholarships in order to keep your graduation goals on track.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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