For this Mother’s Day edition of “College 101,” let’s go back to a question I posed a few weeks ago: Can a full-time student also work part-time?
The short answer is “yes.” Remember, “full-time” equals 15 hours a week in class. Plus, for each hour in the classroom, you can expect to devote two hours to your studies outside of class, bringing the total to 45. So adding a part-time job means you’ll spend about 65 hours a week doing some sort of work.
If that seems excessive, bear in mind that a 60-hour-plus work week is not uncommon for recent graduates just starting out in a new profession. Also, if and when you become a parent, your “work week” will expand to include virtually EVERY WAKING MOMENT.
So maybe 65 hours doesn’t sound that bad after all.
Yes, there will be things you have to give up. Most of my college friends didn’t have jobs, and I often missed some outing or get-together because I had to be at work. However, that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. More than once, I avoided getting into trouble simply because I wasn’t with my buddies when they did something stupid.
There are other advantages to working while in college, too. For one thing, as I mentioned in an earlier installment, it’s a great way to reduce your student debt. No, you probably can’t earn enough working part-time to pay your own way completely. But every dollar you make is one you don’t have to borrow.
Moreover, working part-time can help you learn time management. Nothing encourages procrastination like having all the time in the world to complete a project or study for a test. When you know your time is limited, because you have to pull a four-hour shift that evening, you’re more likely to jump in and get your work done.
I experienced this firsthand with all my non-working college buddies. I was always more on top of my schoolwork than they were — even though, ostensibly, I had less time to study.
Finally, holding down a part-time job provides invaluable work experience—and can even lead to opportunities after graduation. Employers like to hire people who have a proven track record of accomplishment and reliability. I worked for two different retail companies while in college, both of which offered me management positions. I declined, but it was nice to have options.
For that matter, you never know what opportunities might come your way. My wife and I went to the same college but actually met at work, not on campus. I won’t mention the name of our employer, but let’s just say it took me 20 years to get her to stop calling me her “blue-light special.”
So, yeah, having a part-time job in college worked out pretty well for me — and her, too, I hope. Happy Mother’s Day, Sweetheart.