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Monday, December 22, 2014 | Last updated: 7:53am

Students looking for work should make sure time is balanced



With the semester drawing to a close and finals being over in less than two weeks, many students are probably in the market for a seasonal job to occupy their time over the winter break.

Students will seek temporary employment for a variety of reasons, such as saving up for weekend partying, stocking up on coffee budgets or simply because their pockets are empty.

But in these difficult times for students in Arizona and everywhere, it seems that more and more students are taking on work full-time, in one (and sometimes two) jobs during the semester, which takes time away from obtaining a valuable education.

So while many students will only be looking at a month or so of work this month, others will be looking to a permanent full or part-time job that will help their finances.

This is not to say that having a job during school is disadvantageous. The Association of Institutional Research did a study based on the National Survey of Student Engagement and found that employment can have positive effects on students.

Consistent with previous studies, students who have jobs while attending school are more engaged in the classroom, and their grades are either the same or better than students who don’t work during school.

The catch is that these statistics only pertains to students who work up to 20 hours per week.

The same study showed (also consistent with earlier research) that working more than 20 hours per week negatively affected students’ academic performance due to the amount of time students had to dedicate to work. This was mostly demonstrated in lower grades for students with more than a 20-hour workload.

These numbers, of course, are not going to be the same for all students. Some have higher capacities to take on work and school than others.

But most students should take their school into account when considering how much of a workload to take on.

Many university websites offer advice on student employment. The University of Michigan-Flint has a “Surviving College” page that gives a guide to the number of hours student should work based on their credit hours for school, starting with 20 hours per week for four to six classes and up to 40 hours for one or two classes.

More than the number of hours needs to be taken into consideration, though. Work environment is also important in determining how a student performs in school. The AIR study found that students performed better when working on campus.

Reasons for this include interacting with faculty and staff and learning work management skills. Another major factor is university employers’ willingness to work around a student’s schedule as opposed to off-campus employers.

While it’s a little early to consider what to do with work and school a month from now, all of these factors are worth considering.

Studies consistently show that working half time or less is more beneficial than working more hours. Additionally, working on campus (or a school friendly employer) pays off more than working for an off campus employer who doesn’t take students needs into consideration as much as a college employer.

And even with today’s money worries, why work to make a few extra bucks this year when you could graduate with a degree to a career that pays far more in the long run?

Those extra dollars suddenly seem miniscule.

— Andres Dominguez is a senior studying journalism and political science. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @AndresReporting .


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