Working While in School: What are the Pros and Cons?

If someone asked us to close our eyes and think of a college student, many of us would probably picture a carefree person in their teens or early twenties; someone who stays up late and parties on the weekends. We don’t think of them as working adults with jobs and maybe families, but the fact is, plenty of people well beyond their salad days go to college to try to improve their education.

Far more students work while attending school, compared to 25 years ago. Georgetown researchers found that students work an average of 30 hours a week. However, one-fourth of students holds down a full-time job and take a full-time load of college courses. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. What are they?

Work while studying

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When we’re eighteen, it can be hard to know exactly what we want to do with our lives. Delaying a degree until we’re thirty or forty gives us time to go out, see the world, and decide what kinds of things matter to us.

Some people work bad jobs and decide education is one of those things that matter, which prompts them to tackle college classes with a fervor that would have been impossible when they were barely old enough to vote. Almost 40 percent of students taking undergraduate classes are older than 25, so people who find their college motivation a little later in life are in good company. By nature, graduate students tend to be older anyway, since you have to have a bachelor’s degree before you can go pursue something like a master’s in data science online or other Master degree programs in high demand.

Having more obligations can make finding time to study harder, but it can also ensure you don’t waste any free time. If you only have time to study on your lunch break, then you’ll probably be more likely to use every minute of that spare time. It’s easy to procrastinate. We all do it sometimes. But for students who have children and full-time jobs, “I’ll do it later” usually isn’t an option. You should always do it when you have the time.


There are also definitely more distractions when you’re a bit older. There are always distractions, but it’s harder to say no to a child who needs help with their own homework or a spouse who wants to take you out to dinner the night before a lengthy research paper is due.

Telling someone “I’m sorry, but I have schoolwork” is usually easier in theory than it is in reality, and so the decision to finish your degree can definitely put a temporary strain on some of your personal relationships.

Studying in college


That said, it’s the year 2018, not 1988. Students who have trouble making it to a classroom multiple times a week no longer have to do that.

There are more choices than ever for students seeking quality online education programs. It still requires a time commitment, to be sure, but it’s a different type of time commitment than you’d get by going to a traditional campus. Take your day job, for instance. Most bosses won’t want workers to leave for a class at 10 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. However, if students can complete the work online, at any time of day, then they probably won’t care as long as it doesn’t affect your work performance. It’s still a juggling act, but it’s a little easier to keep all those balls in the air.