Working During College - UW HELP

Working During College

Many college students have part-time jobs, but pairing work with school can be tricky. Finding a job that fits your students’ lives matters. So does setting clear boundaries and balancing responsibilities. Here are four tips to help your students navigate school and work as a freshman.

Weigh the Costs and Benefits of Employment

Paychecks are a clear benefit of a part-time job. Your students can use your earnings for tuition, spending money, or a goal like studying abroad. Working during college can prepare them for success after graduation, too. Potential benefits include:

  • Learning to manage time wisely
  • Enhancing organizational skills
  • Gaining experience for their résumés
  • Making valuable contacts

However, working during freshman year isn’t for everyone. Your students should carefully consider if they have the time, energy, and discipline for school and work. Ask how comfortable they are saying no to others when they’re busy. Also help them gauge how much time they might need for the following:

  • Going to class
  • Studying effectively
  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Sleep, exercise, and meals
  • Household duties such as laundry
  • Other commitments such as trips and volunteer work

If a student is not ready for employment first semester, all is not lost. Focus on studies. Consider working during summer or winter break. Take paying gigs when their schedule allows it. Babysitting, mowing lawns, and distributing flyers are a few possibilities.

Find a Good Fit

Remind students they don’t have to take the first job that comes along, tempting as it may be. Have them ask themselves these questions:
Does the job fit my schedule? Consider the times they need need to work, the location, and travel to and from work.

Does it mesh with my personality? If your student loves talking to others, customer service might be a good match. If they prefer alone time, they might thrive at an office or library job.

Will it help me meet my goals? This includes personal, professional, and financial goals. Help them look for jobs that build upon their strengths or teach you something new. They might even find a job that relates to a major that interests them.

Will I enjoy what I’m doing? Liking your work can motivate you on the job and after you head home. Help them look for for interesting tasks and friendly coworkers.

Consider the Financial Situation

First, have your student determine how much money they need for college. If they need financial aid, they should apply as early as possible. Filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step. They can then see if their financial aid package includes Federal Work-Study (FWS). FWS provides part-time jobs for students demonstrating financial need. Work-study opportunities may include:

  • Selected jobs on or near campus
  • Community service opportunities
  • Work related to your field of study

If the students does not qualify for FWS, a part-time job may still be a smart decision. Help them make a plan for how they intend to use their earnings and have them consider what else they want to get out of a job, too, from friends to skills.

Explore Options

There are lots of places to look for part-time jobs at your college. Here are some good places to start:

Student employment offices: Each UW System school has one. Find student-friendly job openings on and off campus.

Student unions: Many student unions have bulletin boards for job listings.

Academic department offices: These offices often post ads for jobs related to specific areas of study. Some distribute newsletters containing this information.

Campus and community newspapers: Search classified ads for possibilities.