College is an important time for growing up and learning what life’s about…yada yada yada. It’s also an important four year period when our parents learn how to cut the cord and let us fend for ourselves financially. In my experience, my monthly allowance was reduced year after year as my parents encouraged me to work more on campus. It was incredibly frustrating at first, but the lessons in time management and fiscal responsibility I learned through the process have proved invaluable.
College is a time for growing up, making mistakes, and learning about your place in the world. Many students are scared that a job will hinder this kind of development. For instance, if you have to work at the library on a Saturday morning, you might have to stay in on Friday night. Sounds like a bummer, but I assure you, working will only enhance your maturation. I recommend working 7-15 hours a week throughout college in order to learn 3 vital skills:
College students have a knack for wasting time. And that’s not a bad thing! Often times it’s in these moments of laziness that some of the best friendships are formed. But eventually, you’ll need to know how to organize your day and prioritize tasks. You class schedule does a good job with this, but having a hard and fast time to report to work really hammers the lesson home.
Before I go any further, it’s time to recognize the best part about working during college…MONEY! By getting yourself off the futon and working, you’re building your bank account. Eventually, relying on your parents to buy all your beer and burritos gets old and burdensome. A job will grant you funds that you can spend guilt free.
You’ll also start practicing fiscal responsibility. You’ll see just how valuable money is when earning your own wages. It certainly does not grow on trees. Many of my peers resorted to taking out loans instead of working a few hours each week to fund their collegiate adventures. After 4 years of that strategy, they’re facing piles of debt, while I can focus on keeping my money.
I don’t mean this in the volunteering sense…I mean it in the “making friends” and hanging out sense. Working 7-15 hours a week around campus means you won’t be able to do everything with your friends. Occasionally, you’ll have to skip a night at the bar to save money or because you have to work in the morning. As hard as it is to say “No, I have to work”, you’ll survive. It takes character and integrity to be able to focus on work when everyone else is partying. You’ll find time to catch up with your friends the next day…or next weekend. Believe me, you’ll get drunk eventually.
In the short term, working at a minimum wage job throughout college was very difficult for me. I worked in the Rec Department, the library and the campus Ice Arena and the hours occasionally frustrated the living heck out of me. I had to skip a football game here and there, but looking back now, it was no big deal.
There were plenty of my friends that attended college without ever asking themselves if it was the right choice. Of course, an education is always the right option, but are you truly motivated to get the most out of your tuition dollars when you’re taking out loans wily nilly and your parents provide for all your expenses? Maybe, maybe not. I was able to confidently say I wanted to be at college and I understand how much money when into my education because I had a job.
P.S. It never hurts to have another job on your resume when talking to recruiters.
Case Ernsting is a digital marketer and blogger for FindItLocal411.com, a Small Business Resource Center in the upper Midwest. FindItLocal411 provides solutions for businesses looking for exposure and an increased online digital presence.