By Katie Wornek, Outreach Officer and Financial Aid Expert – April 5, 2019
For most of us, having a job is an inevitable part of life. Research shows that:
- 35% of 16- to 19-year olds have a summer job
- 29% of teenagers work at their job all year long, and;
- More than 70% of college students work at least part-time
And while the need to make money is, of course, one of the main reasons we work, having a job can also help you discover new passions, provide you with opportunities to learn and grow, and help you build meaningful connections with other people. Whether you’re currently in college, headed there soon, or still making your way through high school, here are some helpful tips for working students:
- Know your limits. Some people can thrive while working and going to school at the same time, but for other students, it may not be the right fit. Remember that your emotional and physical wellbeing and your educational success should be your top priorities.
While studies show that working a modest amount of hours (16-25 hours per week) can actually help students perform better in school, the right decision for you will depend on your personal and financial circumstances. It’s ok to focus on school full-time and opt not to have a job. And, if you do choose to work while you’re a student, don’t commit to working more hours than you can handle.
- Be strategic about choosing your employer. Did you know that some employers will actually help you pay for college beyond just providing you a paycheck? An increasing number of businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships, tuition discounts, or other education-related reimbursements or assistance for their employees. Spend some time researching employers in your area, and don’t be afraid to ask about these benefits during your application or interview process.
- Consider work-study. Work-study jobs are part-time positions for college students, usually on-campus, that accommodate school schedules. In order to apply for a work-study job, you’ll first need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and choose “yes” when the FAFSA asks if you’re interested in work-study. If you qualify, you can then visit your college’s financial aid website or financial aid office to search, apply, and start interviewing for work-study jobs.
- Save as much money as you can. Earning your own paycheck is a rewarding and exciting experience. What you do with that money depends on both your circumstances and your behaviors. You may have obligations to help your family financially, or you may find yourself having to resist the urge to spend every penny of your leftover money on the things you enjoy. However, it is important to put as much of your paycheck as you can into a college savings account. Creating a budget and sticking to it can help make this a little easier. Remember, every dollar you save today means one less dollar you might need to borrow to pay for college. You can set up a savings account through your bank or credit union, or you can set up an account with Utah’s educational savings plan, my529.
If you have any additional questions about managing your college costs, contact us at 801-869-5701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie is an Outreach Officer with UHEAA and StepUpUtah. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Political Science from the University of Utah and previously worked as a tutor with the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college preparatory program. You can follow her for professional advice about preparing and paying for college on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (@StepUpKatie).