In my last blog, I talked a little bit about how to fund your college education with scholarships, but another great way to offset costs is by working part-time while you're in school! It can sound so unmanageable to both work and be a student at the same time, but it is a reality for a lot of us who need to make a little extra to pay the bills. Here is my overview of working in college.
Before you even search for a job, consider how it will fit in your schedule. University is very rigorous and very time intensive, and it is quite possible that even a part-time job could just push you past your limit. I found that my days were so so full already just from going to classes, my research lab, and my clubs, that it was pretty hard to squeeze in even 10 hours of paid work a week. Although it would be awesome to make money to offset your college costs, it might be better to take out loans (or apply for scholarships: see my last post, linked at the end of this blog!) if you have no extra time to work. Remember, you need to also have a social life and sleep, and there is a lot to balance in college!
Find out if you qualify for Work-Study. Work-Study is just a special program based on your financial situation that offers student jobs to help pay for educational expenses. Many on-campus jobs are only available to work-study students, and they are very convenient because they acknowledge you are a student first, with academic commitments and exams. If you are looking for work, I would definitely start with these options.
Look for relevant jobs in your field, if applicable. In college you have to maximize experiences whenever possible. Oftentimes, this means students get internships during the school year or summer to gain real-world experience in their future career area. Better yet, these jobs generally pay more than the typical minimum wage you would get in a service job or work-study position. For me personally, I saved a lot of money by doing summer internships throughout college. I also tried to intern part-time during the school year, but I quit when I realized I was way too busy!
Find ways to get paid for things you are already doing. This kind of goes along with my last point of getting work experience, but there is a current dilemma with high school and college students doing unpaid work or internships. It is unfortunate, but young and ambitious students are often taken advantage of as cheap labor for universities or companies. For example, I spent one summer doing unpaid research for my university just to gain lab experience, but the following summer I realized there were grants and scholarships available so that I could get paid for the work I was doing! It really never hurts to ask or inquire, because your time is valuable and you deserve to be compensated for your hard work.
I worked at several companies during summer internships, had various part-time on-campus jobs, and also participated in a couple paid research lab positions throughout my four years at Berkeley. If you have questions about making a little side money in college, I would love to chat about how we can set that up for you in a way that can sustainably fit into your busy college life!
Read my last blog about starting your scholarship search, here: www.shcollegeconsulting.com/our-advice-blog/starting-your-scholarship-search.
Katia is a consultant on the Study Hall College Consulting team. She recently graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2021 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in CalTeach/STEM Education. Katia is also a Regents' and Chancellor's Scholarship Recipient. For more application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.