Students are often faced with the daunting decision of whether or not to hold a part-time job while studying full-time in college. Some find that work-study programs are a necessity to fund their college costs, but others who are not burdened by financial need still like having pocket money or are looking to enrich their resume. Whatever your reason for seeking employment as a college student, there are many pros and cons to consider when balancing work, study, and a social life.

The Benefits

According to the Mayfield blog on U.S. News & World Report, the first and most obvious advantage to working part-time while attending college is that, no matter your financial circumstances, having extra money is always helpful. More importantly, however, a part-time job is also a chance to develop life skills, learn to balance various demands, and explore potential careers. Even if your job isn’t directly related to your eventual career goals, working during college can enhance your resume, because the experience shows that you have developed maturity, perseverance, and time management skills. And, as Kanika Tandon, of, notes, “It’s a great way to get a hands-on feel for the real working world and what it’s like to work with (and for) other people, as opposed to the often solitary pursuits involved in studying.”

If a job does happen to be in your area of study, it could also be an opportunity to expand your network, gain relevant work experience, and develop glowing references. According to, supervisors can provide a unique view of a student outside of a school setting, and can speak to how well he or she performs in a professional situation.

The Drawbacks

There are, of course, several important trade-offs to consider. Working while studying full-time may negatively impact a student’s academic performance – especially in the first year of college, when adjusting to life at school is often most difficult. According to the CollegeBoard, “Experts agree that students who work more than 15 to 20 hours per week often experience decreased school success. . . Working long hours can also limit opportunities to build friendships and explore interests that enhance intellectual and emotional development.”

Students should also be careful not to spread themselves too thin, as stress, anxiety and lack of sleep can contribute to decreased happiness. The most important focus of college should be learning and attaining your academic goals, and no outside job should jeopardize this.

Missing out on social opportunities due to to work is a reality for most employed students. There are only so many hours in a day. Choosing to work part-time may mean that you will have to forgo participating in a social club, joining an intramural team, helping with a community service project, catching up on sleep, or simply spending time with friends.

On-Campus, or Off?

Another factor to consider is whether to look for employment on or off campus. College Parents of America lists many factors to consider. On-campus jobs provide increased ease of getting to your job’s location, which might end up saving significant time. On-campus positions also tend to offer very flexible hours, allowing students to sandwich shifts between class times, or miss work in order to attend university events, study or take exams. On-campus employment can also be another avenue to form friendships at school. These positions run the gamut from food service and administrative duties, to tutoring or research in a particular field of study.

Off-campus jobs, on the other hand, may offer better pay, possibly with benefits and raises. They also allow a student to make friendships and connections with people outside of school, which could lead to better employment opportunities after college. Additionally, working off-campus can provide students with the opportunity to take jobs or internships in areas more closely related to their future career ambitions.

The decision of whether or not to seek part-time employment as a full-time college student requires careful consideration of your time, priorities, and goals. If you have any questions, contact Collegiate Gateway – we’re always happy to help.