The Pros and Cons of Working in College

Marie-Antonette Bone / Start Your College Search »

When I was a senior in college, I was busy. I was graduating a semester early, interning, participating in organizations and, last but not least, working at a part-time job. Like many students, earning money while also building my résumé was among my top priorities. In fact, a 2015 report by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that, for the previous 25 years, over 70 percent of college students had been taking time from their studies to work—a statistic that has only continued to climb. There are many pros and cons to the responsibility of a job in college, so before you decide to start applying, read through some advice that I’ve curated from my personal experiences. It may help you decide whether working in college is right for you.

There are a handful of part-time job options that full-time students can choose from. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Host/Waitress
  • Animal Caretaker
  • Babysitter
  • Barista
  • Cashier
  • Sales Associate
  • Tutor
  • Brand Ambassador
  • Bank Teller
  • Bridal Consultant

In my case, I was a hostess at a sushi restaurant near my campus. Even better, it was right down the street from where I lived! The restaurant offered evening shifts and flexible scheduling, which was very convenient for employees who were still in school. Although I ended my nights smelling like raw fish, I personally believed that it was worth the paycheck. 

The Pros of Working in College

Steady Income

A universal benefit to any job is earning money! Part-time jobs typically offer hourly pay—the more you work, the more you make. This is an opportunity to help you earn funds that can be spent on textbooks and school supplies, decrease your student debt, or pay for rent if you live off-campus. I made sure to save a portion of my paychecks for emergency savings.

Westfield State University advertisement

Learned How to Manage Time

You might have a lot of responsibilities on your plate, not of which should be neglected. Getting a part-time job will help you learn how to balance everything. I recommend writing down your daily schedule in a calendar or a planner to keep yourself in check. With a busy schedule, every minute is important!

Gained Valuable Work Experience

If you have little to no internships on your résumé, part-time jobs are another great way to fill up the page. Even if your position may not directly correlate to your aspiring career, you can showcase such skills as teamwork, communication, and multitasking. As an advertising major, I found that some post-grad jobs I applied to actually preferred those who had experience in retail!


Expanding your network isn’t limited only to career fairs and networking events. Your coworkers and employers can be great contacts in your professional network. Be sure to add your colleagues on LinkedIn and seize any opportunities that you can.

Although these sound like amazing perks, there can be a few downsides to working during college as well.

The Cons of Working in College

Heavy Workloads

It’s important to consider your workload outside of classes before you decide to take on a full-time or part-time job. How many exams, papers, and hours of homework do you expect to have? Make sure that you have enough time in your schedule to study and do classwork. If you’re expecting a heavy load, you may want to consider working only a few hours, freelancing instead, or applying to a work-study program. These programs work around your school hours and are more convenient for students who need more time to hit the books.

Fun College Campus Activities

Less Time to Spend on College Experiences

Remember that there’s a lot more to college than just earning a degree. College can offer a wide array of experiences through school events, extracurriculars, and campus organizations. Your work schedule might compromise attending some experiences that you want to take part in, but it’s not impossible to have both. I recommend creating a work schedule around any important weekly meetings that you have. You can also consider not scheduling days when events will most likely take place.

Time Away From Family and Friends

Taking some time off of the books and having fun is essential for your mental health. Make sure not to overwork yourself and schedule too many hours. If you’re worried about having less time to socialize, consider working on the weekdays to free up your weekends for quality time with your family and friends. If you have to work on the weekends, or if your schedule is generally busy, consider merging things you have to do with the socializing that you want to do. For example, a good amount of my social activities including getting meals with others. After one to two hours of eating and talking with my friends, I always felt physically and mentally rejuvenated!

Working in college isn’t impossible, but it’s important that you consider these factors before you start applying. I can say that, regardless of how busy I was, my last semester of college was full of growth and new experiences. Whether you decide to work or not, remember that there are also alternative ways to earn money. For starters, Colleges of Distinction has a wide array of scholarship lists available.

Worried about securing a job amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? We got you covered. Good luck!


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