Why Students Should Work During College


Many parents are afraid to allow their children to work during college, thinking that it will hurt their performance in school. One reader recently wrote: "I put myself through college. It was tough, and I missed out on a lot of college experiences and ended up having financial insecurity issues. I won't let my son go through that.... As long as I'm able to, I will be paying his way until he graduates."

The good news: I find it heartwarming that you want to make large financial sacrifices so that your kid won't have to work while he's in school.

The bad news: If you tell your student that he doesn't have to work while he's in school, you are hurting his chances of succeeding in the workplace.

Parents concerned that their children will suffer academically if they work during college shouldn't worry. A 1993 study published in The Journal of Student Financial Aid found that college students who were employed actually had a slightly higher average grade point average (2.72) than those who weren't working (2.69).

Another study found that the average college student spends 10.2 hours per week consuming alcohol and 10.6 hours per week watching television. Do you really think you're doing something honorable by taking out a home equity loan or raiding your 401(k) so that your kid can sit in his room and watch Jersey Shore while drunk?

When it comes to getting jobs, grads with significant work experience also have a definite leg-up. Some of the leading stereotypes of recent grads are that they have a

sense of entitlement, they demand instant gratification, and they don't have a strong work ethic. What better way to disprove all of those negatives than to say "I worked as a barista at Starbucks while I was in school so that I could graduate debt-free without burdening my parents with college costs when they barely have enough saved for retirement"?

Zac Bissonnette'sDebt-Free U: How I Paid For An Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, Or Mooching Off My Parentswas called "best and most troubling book ever about the college admissions process" by The Washington Post.