Work Study Or Real Job
I hope you have completed a time budget and understand better how much time you have available for work. How many hours you can commit yourself to work will depend on how flexible your employer is and how far the job is from campus. It will make a difference whether it is a routine or mundane job that you can leave behind when you go home, or whether it is much more responsibility for you. If you often find yourself taking work home, you should take a serious look at the number of units you enroll in.
Fewer units are better if you complete them with a C or better. Financial aid comes with the expectation that the student will complete a certain percentage of units with a C average or better. The percentage of completion cannot be less than 67%, but many colleges require a completion rate of 75% or more. Check with your college. Find out what the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy is for your specific college. Then figure out what will enable you to meet those requirements.
Work study is a great option for many students. The jobs usually pay minimum wage or slightly more. It is usually a part-time job of not more than 20 hours. Many of the jobs are on the college campus so there is no travel time and you can fit it around your schedule. Because the jobs are in an academic setting, your supervisor will be more agreeable to time off for mid-terms or finals. In fact some colleges have a policy against working students during finals. Try to find a work study job that fits with your field of study. Some colleges will allow you to work with professors or as lab assistants. It is great experience and it doesn’t hurt to increase your interaction with the faculty.
If your college doesn’t have sufficient work study funding (allocations are very limited), then look into work experience. Colleges often have courses in work experience that set specific goals of learning and require a specific number of hours of work in a semester. These jobs/courses are great because if you are smart, you do your research and get a job in your chosen field with someone who is willing to mentor you. The jobs are often paid and lead to great connections as you progress in your studies and get ready to embark on a career.
Work full-time during the summer so you can work less during the regular semesters. Sign up with a Temp Agency or talk to your professor about leads on summer jobs.
Many studies show that just getting a degree isn’t enough anymore. Many colleges require or strongly encourage students to get an internship during their college years. I had friends who stayed on campus and worked on projects with their professors or interned in the college archives or library on research projects. Most college career centers have whole sections of resources devoted to finding the right internship for your field of study.
Whatever you decide to do about working, remember your time budget. There are only 168 hours in a week and you have to sleep at some point. If you have to work full-time, adjust your course load accordingly. It will take you a little longer to complete your studies, but you will be much more successful in the long run.