The benefits of working through college

When I first came to Radford University, I noticed an abundance of women and men who don’t have to work hard at all. Their only jobs are school. All they have to do is get good grades and the worst thing they have to worry about is Mommy or Daddy getting upset.

Their parents pay for rent, insurance, groceries, and then some. They may have had a part time job in the past, but that’s the farthest their job experience goes. Don’t get me wrong, if you have wealthy parents that are able to support you, that’s great. However, many people (like me) don’t. I work 40+ hours a week, I’m currently taking 18 credits, interning and I’m part of an on-campus organization.

Muse and an office building in one.
Muse and an office building in one. By Julian Guerra

I think that people like me, who actually have to pay their own bills, are more prepared for life after college. Every month we have to budget our money and pay close attention to our spending. That takes on a new meaning when your parents no longer pay for your every need. Sure, there are classes on personal finance that teach you budgeting, but it’s not the same as real life. Sometimes you have to choose between food and rent or food and school supplies. These decisions can’t be fed to you by a class.

This is real life. These are choices and skills that we’ve practiced and found what works for us and what doesn’t. However, when your parents take care of you, these aren’t things that you have to worry about. When you graduate though, and you have your own job and no financial support, you’ll have to take time in life to figure out these things and put them to use. The students that work during college, however, already know how to handle these responsibilities. Even during my job search after graduation, my job history will show responsibility. I’ll have more references than those who haven’t had jobs, or even those who have only had one part time job throughout college.

In general, when you have to work and go to school, it teaches you things you can’t learn in a classroom or through your parents’ babying. It allows you to appreciate every penny you make, and to understand the value of a dollar. It lets you budget your money and take on adult responsibilities that many don’t take on until after college. It also gives you independence from your parents. Although many students may think they are independent, they still talk to their parents every day. Their parents still take care of your financial aid and make the large decisions for them. What happens after college when they are not able to do such a thing and you have to figure it out yourself? These important experiences like, working through college and paying your own bills, teaches you and puts you ahead of the game when it comes to post-college job searching and real life.