Tuition. Books. Supplies. Room. Board. Transportation.
First thing that comes to mind? Money.
With costs like these adding up for a student, working part time through college is no new phenomenon.
Today, a working learner cannot pay off their education expenses making $7.25 an hour, but employment can lighten debt after graduation tremendously and pay off in more ways than one.
According to a 2015 study from Georgetown University’s Center of Education and the Workforce, around 70 percent of college students enrolled in the United States are employed. Regardless of student characteristics such as family income, financial dependency and age, the average college student works.
For the past 25 years, the study estimates students work an average of 30 hours per week. However, 25 percent of working students are enrolled in college full time and employed full time.
Students making minimum wage at a full-time job would not generate enough income to pay the bills at most universities. In the course of a year, a student working 40 hours a week would make $15,080 before taxes. On top of that, the study shows student debt has increased from $240 billion in 2003 to $1.2 trillion.
According to College Board, tuition, fees, room and board at a public, four-year university in 2016 added up to $20,090 a year. At a private university, the number spiked to $45,370.
At Texas Tech for the 2017-18 academic year, resident undergraduate tuition totals $25,776 and non-resident undergraduate totals $38,016.
Even though keeping up with bills are one of the main reasons to having a job, many believe it is the field experience you gain that really pays off in the end.
Jerod Bradberry has worked since he was 17 years old. Now, a senior supply chain management major at Texas Tech, Bradberry has worked in jobs ranging from insurance to the front desk at the Texas Tech Recreation Center. He says having jobs that do and do not pertain to your career can both be beneficial.
“You have the knowledge of the degree you are earning and you’re also getting the knowledge of a job experience,” Bradberry says. “That shows you are a versatile person in the job force – you can switch tasks and are open minded, and I think employers will look at that on a résumé and will see that opportunity has a benefit instead of something that would hinder you.”
Work experience is an added bonus on a resumé, especially when it is directly correlated to your career path. In summer 2016, Bradberry received the opportunity to work as an outbound logistic operations manager at the Target distribution center in Denton, Texas, where he was able to run the outbound department. At the end of the summer, Bradberry was offered a position with the company for when he graduates May 2017.
While Bradberry appreciated the customer service skills the non-related career jobs gave him throughout the years, it was working with Target that prepared him for life after a diploma.
“I feel like the value of my degree can be put into work at that job,” he said.
Caitlin Bushnell, a junior marketing major, has had jobs that included Subway, a NIKE outlet, shaved ice, retail and the high-quality cooler company, YETI. She currently works as a student assistant in the Rawls College of Business.
While she gained some valuable customer relation skills from working in non-career path jobs, her experience at YETI headquarters in the marketing department is what she appreciated the most.
“I’ve been able to relate things that I have learned at YETI to things we are learning about in class,” Bushnell says. “It makes it way easier because I have that real-world example. I know based on the things I learned at YETI, I have a better understanding of what my position would look like coming out of college and I think that will help me when talking to future employers.”
Bushnell adds while at YETI, she became the go-to person in the marketing department, assisting on anything ranging from events and digital marketing, market research, and working on the marketing inbox, which could fill up in a hurry with people asking for sponsorships and wanting to become a YETI ambassador.
Even though most on-campus jobs do not pertain to students’ majors, they are still beneficial. Nedra Goodrich is the student employment coordinator at Texas Tech. She says while most jobs students apply for at Texas Tech involve working in offices, those positions involve customer service, which can benefit any student.
“It gives them time management skills that they will need in the future,” Goodrich says. “It also shows them what real life and working is all about.”
While off-campus jobs can offer higher wages, a variety of job options and less restrictions, on-campus jobs provide two key advantages: transportation and employers accommodating to a student’s need to place school first.
“When a student applies to any job on campus, they have to submit their class schedule,” Goodrich said. “All the jobs that I post work with the students schedule and if they know in advance of tests or special activities, time is given to allow for this.”
While working at Farmer’s Insurance, Bradberry said it never interfered with his education, but caused him to start homework later in the night. While at the recreation center on Texas Tech’s campus, he was able to complete assignments and study during the not-so-busy hours of the day, which he appreciated.
Bradberry added a job has helped him prioritize his responsibilities, be independent and give him the ability to splurge on himself from time to time.
“[I can] see things from a different perspective, and say ‘no’ to those that want to go out on a Friday night, but I can’t because I have work at 4 a.m. the next morning,” he said. “It also has given me the freedom to go out and spend money, when others rely on their mom or dad’s paychecks – and that’s totally okay, but sometimes they only give you so much per week to get groceries and the essentials. When you have a job, you have the ability to go out, spend a little bit more money at Chimy’s, and spend a little more on those shoes you want, if you’re into shoes.”
Bushnell says it is about how you handle the pressure of the situations you are in that will give you important skills in the long run.
“I think it’s important to make you a well-rounded candidate for any job,” she said. “To have experience or have a situation where you have a ton of work and schoolwork to do, and make it happen and still get good grades. Just the mindset of ‘give me what you got, and I’ll make sure I get it done and do it well.’”