By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
If attending college and being successful was not hard enough, many college students are faced with the decision of being a non-working student, or working while attending school. Striking a balance between work and school is challenging, and these tips below may help you in making that tough decision.
- Review your financial position. If you know that you will have to work through your entire college career, expect to take lighter course loads. If you are in a good financial position, you may be able to either become a full-time student, or work a part-time job and focus more heavily on your school work.
- Decide your course load before each semester. If you already have a job, you will probably want to take a lighter course load. A good rule of thumb is to do one full-time, and the other part-time. If you work 40 hours (or more) a week, you will probably want to commit to only six credit hours a semester (half-time). If you work 20 hours or less a week, you may want to try to take on a full-time course load (12+ hours).
- Do not rely on Federal Student Aid (FSA) to pay for anything other than legitimate college expenses. FSA should be solely used to pay for expenses such as tuition, books, fees, housing, and transportation costs if you commute. It should NEVER be used to pay for vacations, shopping trips, and so on. If you know you will have expenses outside of those educational ones, you should find a way to work while attending school.
- Understand what kind of learner you are. Being able to juggle work and school is very attractive to potential future employers. However, not everyone will be able to do this. If you feel you will need to spend more time with your school work, working many (or any) hours may not be the best decision for you. If you feel you can handle the challenge of doing both, it will help you in the future.
Working while you are in school may not be the right choice for everyone, but it is something every college student should strive for. It builds work ethic, is attractive to future employers, and gives you a sense of empowerment. It also can help cut down on your borrowing and spending. Both working and attending, and completing, school are very important to be a successful member of society. Striving to do both is a great way to make yourself more marketable and accomplished.