That is the Question
By Aviva Zapinsky
For many students working part-time jobs is a question of necessity, but balancing the course-load with their jobs is a difficult proposition, raising the question of whether this balance should be required in the first place.
Many students find being a full-time student difficult enough without the added stress of working part-time. If not all of their waking hours are absorbed by their school work, enough of them are that it can make working difficult. Unless necessary for financial reasons, full-time students should not take on a job as well as their studies. In general, the added time and stress make it more likely for those students to do poorly in their classes and their lives more hectic — which in turn also makes it even more likely for these students to do poorly in their classes.
A job takes up time. This time – when they are actively working, when they are preparing for their job, and when they travel to and from work – is time that students cannot use for homework.
All of these add to students’ to-do lists, and take the focus away from their classes. Seeing as how they are called ‘students,’ those people taking classes to earn a degree should have their first priority be to earn that degree — to do well in their classes.
Financial independence is one thing, but not taking too many things upon oneself is another thing. Rebecca Arno, a freshman computer science and political science double major with a part-time job as a teacher says, “You want to be able to give what you are doing 100%, and you can’t do that if constantly have to stay on top of college and work. If you are going to do it, you should probably take that into account and give yourself an easier semester.”
Arno said that she spends most of her time on school, “[It is] full time, whereas work is part time. But it gets complicated because let’s say you have papers you really should grade, and a test you have to take. Well, obviously you study for the test … but then those papers keep getting pushed to the side.”
Students should not have to deal with this choice, as it is difficult to balance all the time commitments. It is not an ideal situation to have to deal with the most pressing things and leave the ‘minor’ things for the last minute. Most students should not have handle it, if they don’t have to.
UMBC academic advisors also generally caution against too many time commitments in favor of ensuring success in the classes that will, in the long run, guarantee more success. It is a school policy not to allow students, unless they have permission from their academic advisor and the registrar’s office, to take more than 19.5 credits, as this may be as much as most students can handle.
However, in terms of balancing coursework and part-time jobs, Dr. Jeffrey Gardner, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and an academic advisor to many students, said, “It depends. There is no one size fits all approach to the discussion of combining employment and academic work, so to fully answer these questions it would be a conversation between student and advisor and on a case by base basis.”
If absolutely necessary for financial reasons, obviously students have to work. But in general, balancing a full load of classes and a professional part-time job is an intense requisition of time that requires a lot of effort to ensure success in both. This is something most students find difficult to do properly, and should probably not be done.