To Work or Not to Work While Enrolled in College

Seth Marsh, CUED-IN Seth Marsh, CUED-IN Sep 12, 2016

As with almost everything in life, there are both pros and cons to working while being enrolled in college. According to the Census Bureau, in 2011 72% of undergraduate students worked (20% full-time, year round workers and 52% less than that). Clearly, it is not unusual to work in college. And with how much college costs these days, not working while enrolled is becoming more and more of a luxury (one that you will likely have to pay for later in debt).

I’ve created a little chart (below) to help you think through the pros and cons of working while enrolled.

NOTE: I am only discussing the pros and cons of working during the school year (and assuming full-time student status). If you ask me whether or not you should work during your summer and winter breaks, my adamant answer is YES. A summer job is an excellent way to whittle away at college costs.

SIDE NOTE: What about Work Study? If your school has a work study program, it is definitely something to look into. I did work study while in college. It was convenient because it was on campus and they automatically worked around my class schedule. But I certainly could have found a higher paying job off campus. So, you have to weigh convenience against earnings per hour. But the money I earned went straight to my college tuition and ended up helping me pay $15,000 worth of college costs over 3 years. That’s $15,000 I didn’t have to pay off monthly (plus interest!) in loans after college.

To Work or Not to Work in College


If you’re already in college, comment below about whether you work during the school year.

If you have graduated, comment below about whether or not you worked during the school year AND if you would do things differently if you could go back.