How Many Hours Should You Work While in College?

When you think about college, the question of “What job will I get there?” doesn’t necessarily pop up into the heads of many people. However, employment is something that should really be considered once you realize that you will be fending for yourself when it comes to food and transportation.

The amount of hours a student should work during college is close to 15-20 hours per week. This will help students to stay afloat with payments such as housing, tuition, food, clothing, transportation, among other necessities. They may even earn some extra money just for fun.

This general average of hours is a very good tool to use when creating a general idea on how to balance work and school.

However, there are different applications on how many hours to work depending on the number of credits you have as a part-time versus a full-time student. There are also pros and cons to having a job while you’re in school.

Full-Time Students

Most students have to have a minimum of 12 credits per semester in order to be considered as “full-time” students. Usually, most college students take an average of 15 credits per semester, but it all depends if your classes are rigorous and specific for a major, or easy and meant to be fun.

If you are the type of student who wants to graduate early and takes up to 17 credits a semester, forgo the thought of getting a job, and good luck with keeping up with your homework!

Schoolwork and studying take time in college, and it’s super different and way more intense than it was in High School. Make sure you spend a week or two getting settled in as a full-time student before searching for jobs.

Logically, the more credits you have, the less free time you have to devote to work. That doesn’t mean to completely throw the idea away. Just work fewer hours. With 12-16 credits, the minimum hours you could work could be 10 hours or up to 20 hours a week.

Also, when you’re working this much, the ideal job would be one that is super close to campus. A ten-minute walk or a two-minute drive would be perfect for the 10-20 hours of work and your 12-16 credits of schooling.

However, if the job is farther away – like, out of town – then the number of hours you could work would need to go down a bit.

As important as it is to get money, schooling is important, and that is what will guide you through life. If you are working out of town, the recommended amount of hours would be 8-15 hours while you’re at school with 12-13 credits.

Related Article: How Much Free Time Do You Have in College? More Than You Think

Part-Time Students

To be considered as a “part-time” college student, you have registered for less than 12 credits per semester and should have a good portion of free time on your hands. Let’s get a job!

With less schooling to worry about, you have a lot more time to work and save up more money for a semester where you could participate as a “full-time” student. The fewer credits you are registered for, the more hours you can work.

With 6-11 credits, you can work as much as 20-30 hours per week. That is also the number of hours recommended even when you’re working out of town (although your commute time might factor in). If you are near campus and are taking less than six credits, you can work between 30-40 hours. That’s a full-time job!

This is a simple document that outlines the general capabilities of what both full-time and part-time college kids can handle with balancing schooling based on credits and a job. It could be helpful for those who are trying to find a good balance.

Pros and Cons of College + Job

The pros of having a job during college are…

  • Additional income
  • Maintianing success in school
  • Gaining hands-on experience

The income aspect of having a job is obvious. You can pay for housing, food, clothing, and save up for tuition for next semester. And it doesn’t hurt to have some extra money on hand if you want to have a fun night with friends and roommates that includes pizza, ice cream, and movie marathons.

It’s surprising to learn that those who have a job during college are more likely to succeed than college students who don’t. It can have a positive impact on your GPA because the 10-20 hours you spend working helps you learn time management that defines the balance of school and job, and clearly lays out all of the distractions that keep you from doing homework.

It will also help you to also make a reasonable amount of time for yourself so it won’t affect your performance in your work or schooling.

When there is a Major you really want to get the full experience of, there are jobs that will provide that experience, so look around!

If it’s a Biology/Nursing Major, there are pharmacies, hospitals, and nursing homes that would be great places to go work and gain experience in those fields.

Cons of having a job during college include:

  • Less time to study
  • Falling grades
  • Increased stress

Less time to study… that’s scary, isn’t it?

Less time to study leads to unknown answers to questions, and that leads to bad test scores, which leads to bad grades. It’s scary, but it can usually be solved by using proper time management and prioritizing schooling.

There is a line between having a job and succeeding and having a job and failing.

Again, it depends on the workload you have at school and the amount of time you dedicate to studying and to work. If you are focusing too much on work, or if you are working too much, ease off a little. Too much work will do you no favors in your education.

College is a totally different life, and it can be stressful, so pay attention to the amount of stress you can handle for each semester. There is only so much stress you can have before it begins to hurt your grades and work performance.

This is especially true if you don’t know how to manage, organize, and prioritize your time. It can be difficult to handle two things that demand your attention.

Read Also: Is Work-Study Worth It?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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