The Juggling Act

Vonree G. Nelson •  WR100 • Professor Mohamed Zefzaf • 2 DECEMBER, 2009

Juggling studies with work and personal obligations is an act that the majority of college students will have to master.  For most people, enrolling in college is the first step on a path to a more rewarding career.  The majority of students need to keep a part time job to supplement the ever increasing expenses associated with getting an education.  Many have families to support, and children who require time and attention.  Students without children will also find that there is always something remaining or being added to their to-do lists, be it work or school related.  Some are lucky enough to be employed by companies that help them pay tuition.  In order to avoid a negative impact on their scholastic performance, students must manage their time efficiently and prioritize their studies.  They must find a happy medium that allows them enough time to excel in school while earning a living and fulfilling their familial obligations.

Institutional knowledge is expensive.  Many students will be paying off tuition debts long after they graduate.  Financial aid and grants seldom cover the entire cost of school and many students must take out loans to finance their education. Books alone can cost thousands of dollars.  When the cost of living is factored into the equation, students quickly realize they will need a job to make ends meet.  If possible, students should try to find an entry level job related to their field of study.  By the time they graduate and pursue their career full time, they will already have valuable work experience.

Research shows that working while attending college is indeed beneficial.  As they pull themselves up by their bootstraps, successful working students learn to manage their time and make use of every free second to work ahead.  When they can balance their time and efforts between school and work they will find they are better able to focus in both settings.  The juggling act increases a student’s ability to multi-task, a trait which is highly favorable and increasingly necessary to be successful in the “real world”.  In “The Multitasking Generation”, Claudia Wallis asserts that “the quality of one’s output and depth of thought deteriorates as one attends to ever more tasks.” As such, it is important for the student to find a rhythm and work load that isn’t overwhelming. If a student should find that their work schedule and or family obligations are hindering their performance in school, they would be well served to take a class or two less.  This will ease the stress and allow them the extra time and freedom they need to excel in their remaining classes.  It may take longer to attain the degree, but that is a small price to pay for a better quality of life, not to mention better results.

It’s no secret that the social aspect of college is of great importance to students.  Meeting and learning about new people from different places and partying are collegiate rites of passage. With the majority of their time being dedicated to work and studies, students have to accept the fact that their time for play is limited.  However, since they are gainfully employed, they will be able to afford the well deserved occasional night out with friends.

It is an advantage to have a job while attending school.  In “Less Is More: A Call For Shorter Work Hours”, Barbara Brandt writes about how Americans are spending more time at work than ever before.  She points out that “almost every other industrialized nation (except Japan) has fewer working hours and longer vacations than the United States.”  The extra effort it takes to be successful in school and at work at the same time will prepare students for the rigors of an eventful and productive career.  These graduates are better prepared to work harder, longer.  Juggling part time work and college increases the amount of responsibility one can bear in their career.  The process yields a more mature employee with a greater respect for hard work.

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