Students balance work and academics

With education costs rising and academic pressure building, students have to decide how to finance their degree.

Working on campus, off campus, full-time, part-time or no time at all, the struggle between grades and finances is one most college students are familiar with.

According to the average cost of a bachelor’s degree is over $100,000.

While some students get financial aid and scholarships, most of that money is a student’s responsibility. Even students who receive federal and private loans are responsible for paying those back eventually.

Senior Liberal Studies major Mariah Tevepaugh is a working student who plans on being $20,000 in debt after graduation, and that amount is after transferring from a community college.

Tevepaugh works around 30 hours per week at Buffalo Wild Wings and takes a full course load of classes.

The pressure of thousands of dollars per year can be difficult for an undergraduate student to deal with, and most begin working in college to offset the cost of their education.

FAFSA takes into consideration money from students’ parents, even though parents often can’t afford to help with tuition.

Tevepaugh is in that situation. She doesn’t receive government grants, but her parents do not help her with her student bills.

“They have never had enough money to help with school or living situation, so everything that I do with school, I do on my own,” she said.

According to a Brigham Young University report, about 80 percent of college students are employed while they complete their bachelor’s degree.

“I work because I have bills that I couldn’t afford if I didn’t work,” Tevepaugh said.

There are positive and negative effects of working while attending college. There is the worry that working will effect tim available to study, which in turn would affect grades and GPA.

“I need to work to pay for school and living but I need to go to school to get a better job,” Tevepaugh said. “I want to work to make money but I also need to study. It’s hard to find a balance between the two, especially since I would rather make money than do school work.”

Studies have shown having a job can benefit a student’s GPA, but it is critical to not work too many hours.

BYU reported that 74 percent of students said their work actually forces them to be more efficient, but 64 percent also said their job adds additional stress to their lives.

“I don’t know how many meals I have skipped because I have to go from class to work or vice versa, and I don’t have the time to eat or change or take a minute to breathe,” Tevepaugh said.

BYU held a study comparing working and non-working students. Students who work part time on campus have better GPAs than other students. Working on campus often allows students to be integrated into the campus community while also earning money.

Director of Student Employment Services Dawn Chong said that Student Employment Services employs approximately 3,500 students on campus annually. About 1,300 are graduate assistants and the rest, student employees.

Some campus jobs have some relation to a student’s major, or some kind of academic requirements.

Many campuses also have limits on how much a students is allowed to work while they are taking classes.

Chong said that at BG, grad students work 20 hours per week, and student employees can work a maximum of 28 hours per week.

She said students on campus work between 12-15 hours per week on average.

According to BYU, about 20 hours is the point where students start to notice the negative effects of their work reflected onto their grades and school work.

Off-campus students tend to work more hours in a different environment that can have a negative impact on their school life.

Tevepaugh said she brings her school work to her job sometimes in hopes of having a slow period to get it done.

“Students can work, but they are here to get their education first,” Chong said. “If they can successfully balance school and extracurricular activities, adding work to the equation shouldn’t pose a problem.”

The decision is difficult, and can be frustrating for students.

Ultimately it is up to them to decide what is best for their academic career and stress level.

Students needing help finding jobs or doing their first year resume can contact the Student Employment Services office at (419) 372-2865.