More Students Working Through College To Pay Tuition

Students working through college is a new normal occurance, but it sheds light on another growing issue with higher education.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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students working

It is no wonder more students than ever before are opting to go straight into the workforce and ditching higher education altogether. But even for those pursuing college degrees, a recent study shows more students are working conjunctively with college attendance. There are likely many factors at play leading to this finding, but the ever-increasing price of tuition is the forefront reason. Looking at the whole picture, however, sheds light on more dire findings in higher education, as it plays into a disparity seen on college campuses throughout America.  

Everfi, an education technology provider recently released information on a survey of college students, according to a report from Fortune. Within, 18,000 participants were asked questions about paying for their college experience. 56% of them responded by saying that they planned to pay at least part of their tuition costs by holding a job while in school. But that’s not all, as Fortune found a great disparity in the job field, hours worked, and resonation with their field of study for students working while in school.

Nicole Smith, a research professor and chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce commented on the data, saying it’s the “new normal” to find the majority of American students working. Smith, however, co-authored another report, that studied the difference found in higher-income students working with those of lower-income earners. In her studies, Smith found that students working jobs that paid more tended to hold more desirable jobs and work fewer hours.  On the contrary, low-wage earners worked more hours, in fields unrelated to their majors of study. 

The research looked at two separate students that were working while attending college.  One works 15 hours a week at a job related to her major. This is in part thanks to her college, which offers a job placement program aligned with their studies. 

On the other hand, the other student was working two demanding jobs that were completely unrelated to his field of study. Additionally, unlike the first student, this one has no choice but to work in these fields. It’s mandatory to offset the cost of tuition. 

There are many reasons why these findings are disturbing to education experts. For one, students working long hours in positions unrelated to their potential careers are less likely to graduate. With the onset of mental health issues, it’s no wonder some students are struggling to stay afloat in college.

students working

There are multiple ways to address this growing issue with students working while attempting to attain a degree. To start, colleges can offer more work-placement programs that help students attain part-time, or even full-time, desirable jobs more allocated to their potential careers. Another major issue that needs to be addressed with this is the growing price tag associated with college degrees, which have risen much higher than inflation rates over the decades.

It has long been normal to find college students working part-time jobs, or even full-time ones. However, the urgent need for these student workers to keep them is a concern to many. With the plummeting rate at which young adults are opting to go straight into the workforce, it is an issue colleges and universities can no longer ignore. Plus, it is simply bad for business as well as the future workforce.