With Mason, Program Manager
All students and their families approach this question in different ways. Take for example, me and my girlfriend. My dad always wanted for me to have a job throughout high school and college as a way for me to earn money, pay for college and save for the future. Not only that, considering who I was then, it taught me a better work ethic…one that wasn’t sown by the lenient school system. My girlfriend, however, had a different experience. She worked through high school and attained a good work ethic, but when she got to college her parents didn’t want her to have a job. They believed it would distract her from studying and rob her of what she was primarily at school for.
Both approaches are completely acceptable. There are certainly drawbacks and benefits to both and a lot depends on whether or not you can deal with it. For me - and for the purpose of this column - I am all for having a job while in school.
Two benefits that I would particularly like to highlight:
Work for me was an escape from the pressures of school. There were many times where I genuinely looked forward to being torn away from a paper that I needed to write. A part-time job can give your brain the mental rest that it absolutely deserves. While I was there, I knew that I didn’t have to worry about working on a report or project. I merely had to focus on the task in front of me. I stocked shelves and knew that it was good to be able to escape into that world, where I could control what was happening and feel like I had an effect on thing
Knowing that I didn’t have a lot of time really pushed me to do the best that I could. I think that adversity is an extremely important thing when it comes to school. I knew a lot of people that had full-rides and felt as though they were unstoppable, that nothing could touch them. Then when mid-terms rolled around they were complacent, didn’t do their work and failed. Since I had a job, I was hyper-aware of my school schedule and my work schedule, making sure that everything lined up okay and that things were going to get done. There were certainly nights where I came home at 10pm after closing and still had a paper to write, keeping me up until the wee hours of the morning. Surprisingly, some of my best work was produced during those crunch times. Work is stressful, but while you’re in school your job should never be as stressful as your schoolwork. It’s an old saying but I still think it’s true: “No pressure, no diamonds.”
Since I worked throughout high school and college, I was able to afford more than if I didn’t work. This is kind of a no-brainer, but I feel as though it should be mentioned. I didn’t earn a lot but I was able to fund the trips that I wanted to take or the food that I wanted to buy. Having a job also provided me some easy resume benefits—I could tell potential employers that I worked throughout college and paid my way through school. I also had a good connection and understanding of the working world before I actually entered it. I understood what office politics were like and what it was like to have to work with someone I didn’t particularly like. These are all experiences that are great to have before you leave school.