Career Planning

Here’s Why Your Student Should Work Part-Time During College

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By: Rhiannon Winner, Uloop

Whether you really need your student to help pay for college or you can handle it all on your own, every college student should work a part-time job. Chances are, they’re going to make minimum wage and a negligible contribution toward tuition, car payments, or whatever else you’re having them work toward, but they will gain invaluable experience.

For a moment, let’s forget how useful a job is and how it can help acclimatize a student to the real world and look at it from their perspective. Having a job, especially on campus, can be a surprising amount of fun. If they find a job they really enjoy, in an academic department or with a local business or organization, that’s an added bonus.

But even if they don’t enjoy the job itself, your student will end up having lots of fun on the clock. If their job is on campus, their co-workers will primarily be fellow students. Some students meet their closest college friends debugging computers at the campus IT office or making sandwiches together. Even if it’s off-campus, they’ll probably recognize plenty of customers from campus and befriend some new people outside of their college bubble.

Once your student is in their senior year and applying for jobs, or even after graduation or in graduate school, they’re going to appreciate having worked a part-time job. Recommendations go a long way in helping secure a job, and while professors can serve as great academic references, they can only say so much. They can attest to the student’s writing skills, work ethic (although let’s be fair, most of the class probably procrastinated and only gave the appearance of an actual work ethic), and academic prowess, which are all great.

But your student’s boss can show that they really do have the customer service skills and actual, demonstrable work ethic that a future employer is seeking. Of course, as wonderful as the post-college benefits are, it can be hard to think that far ahead for a student, whose greatest concern is just the upcoming week. But they don’t have to wait until graduation to reap the benefits of a part-time job. When your student is applying to different summer programs or jobs between years in college, their employer can provide valuable references.

Depending on your financial situation, the money a student makes while working can be put to two different uses. If you need your student’s help to pay for college — which most families do — then consider either having them turn over their entire paycheck to you, or garnishing what you need.

If you need everything your student earns, tell them that. Your student understands what a sacrifice the family has to make for them to attend college, and they’re going to be grateful. They appreciate the education they’re getting, and most would go to great lengths to ensure that they could continue to receive it. They might not exactly be happy about working a part-time job, but they will definitely do it if it means they can continue their education.

If your financial situation isn’t quite as strained, you can garnish your student’s paycheck instead. Sit down with your student and agree upon what amount of their paycheck they get to keep, and what goes towards their education. They’re doing their best to help pay for their education, plus they get something to keep for themselves as well. If there’s anything they want that you can’t afford to buy them or just won’t, they can save up and try to get it on their own.

If you’re either garnishing your child’s paycheck or can afford college without any contribution on their part, encourage them to put at least some of their remaining cash into a savings account. If they study abroad, they’re going to appreciate having some extra funds available to travel within that country or buy more souvenirs.

If they’re planning on getting a job right out of college, having some money stored up for their first apartment or to help buy food will make living on their own a little bit easier. Even just having some extra cash on hand so they can make a McDonald’s run is something your student will really be grateful for.

Finally, work can be humbling. Since your student will probably be working as a cashier, with food, or a similar minimum wage job they don’t want to hold their entire lives, they’ll learn some humility. It’s easy to judge those working undesirable minimum wage jobs, and having to put up with it themselves will teach your student to be grateful for what they have. Students tend to be a lot kinder to fast food workers or janitors when they’ve experienced that kind of work as well.

Plenty of students successfully juggle assignments, work, and extracurriculars. Given all of the benefits of a part-time job, why not your student?

Visit for more college news and to search for off-campus housing, tutors near campus, study abroad opportunities, part-time job opportunities for college students, and more.

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