Reviewed by Josianne Campbell
Ready to advance in your career, but can’t move forward without going back to school? Ready to go back to school, but can’t afford to without a job? You’re not alone. In fact, you might be surprised at how common (and how realistic) it is to work while going to school.
1. Most students work.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 78% of undergraduate students work—a figure that’s held steady since the 1990s. On average, working students hold down 30 hour-per-week jobs. You are not alone. Others have found a way to achieve their academic goals while working--and you can learn from their success. Time management is critical.
2. 25% of full-time students also work full time.
Granted, this cuts down on family time, vacations, and socializing with friends, but one in four students are making it work. They are committed to earning their degree while holding down a full-time job. In other words, it is realistic to commit to work full time and complete your degree.
3. Two thirds of working students are doing it to pay for college.
The American Council for Education (ACE) found that the main reason students work is to pay their tuition, fees and living expenses while attending college. Rather than relying solely on loans, most students choose to bridge the financial gap by applying for scholarships, taking affordable general education courses online, and earning an income.
4. Try to work in a field related to your major.
Are you thinking about a career change? Maybe you’re looking to get into computer programming or work your way into healthcare. You may have to wait until after you graduate to start your dream job, but it’s a good idea to at least get your foot in the door. The right job, one that helps you gain work experience in your field, can give you a head start. That experience will improve your chances of getting hired and increase your earning power.
5. One third of working students still work at the same jobs they held before college.
A sizable number of students decide to go back to college after a few years in the workforce, either to gain new skills or to deepen the skills they’ve picked up on the job. These students are likely to stick with their current job. Why quit if you’re trying to get promoted? Find out if your company offers tuition assistance to help cover the cost. Many companies see adult education as a good investment. Work with your boss to discuss your career path and share it with your enrollment counselor to leverage a relevant degree plan.
6. Working can actually improve your school performance.
Even with the related time constraints, having a job can help keep you more focused on what’s important. As a working professional, you face business challenges and workplace issues that apply directly to the college courses you’re taking. It’s always easier to write a paper about a topic that’s relevant to your career. Some students take it a step further and share school projects with their boss and turn their research into a solution that solves a problem at work. What a great way to add value and position yourself for a promotion!
Whatever your skill level, educational background or financial situation, college is a golden opportunity to improve and grow. It’s a smart investment in your future, even if you have to work harder to make ends meet. Do you have what it takes to work while going to school? The facts don’t lie: You really can do it, no matter what.