Many students work an average of 17 hours per week, according to a survey conducted by The Eastern Progress during midterms week. When asked why students work so much, there seems to be one common theme: to avoid student loans.
Students who work during the semester said they do so to ensure they can graduate debt free and not spend their lives chained to the debt from college.
“I don’t have student loans, and I’m working hard so I can keep it that way,” said Mariah Moore, 20, a public health major from Richmond.
Surveyed students who are employed take an average of 12 credit hours per semester, and students who aren’t employed take an average of 16 credit hours per semester.
Of the students surveyed, 66 percent of students who work had not taken out student loans, compared to 60 percent of students who don’t work who had not taken out student loans.
There’s only a 6 percent difference in the amount of students taking out loans to justify an average 17 hours of work per week, with some students surveyed working up to 40 hours every week.
On average, 37 percent of students who work during the semester said they feel working during the semester negatively impacts performance in school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) National Postsecondary Student Aid Study.
The survey also asked students about their stress levels to see if working during the semester increased students’ stress.
When asked to measure their stress levels on a scale of one to 10, employed and unemployed students report they have almost exactly the same stress levels, with no students rating their stress below a four out of 10.
With no notable differences between the stress levels of students and the percentage of students taking out loans, is there any quantifiable benefit for students working during the semester?
Students were also asked if they were satisfied with their grades so far this semester.
Sixty four percent of employed students who work during the semester are satisfied with their current grades, but only 33 percent of unemployed students are satisfied with their current grades.
A 31 percent difference, with students who work nearly twice as likely to be satisfied with their grades.
The NCES’ study also found that when working up to 15 hours weekly, 22 percent of students felt it improved school performance.
When students work near full time, however, these percentages change drastically with 55 percent of students working 35 or more hours weekly reporting a negative impact on school performance.
Maddi Southard, 21, a parks and recreation major from Louisville works 30 hours a week during the semester, and 40 hours a week during the summer.
According to the NCES study, 46 percent of students who work as much as Southard during the semester report a negative impact on school performance.
Southard said she still thinks working during the semester has a positive impact on her, though.
“Honestly, I think working does help me because it kind of stresses me out to do things right before work or right after work,” Southard said. “When you work as much as I do, you really have to make sure the little free time you do have is used right. I try to make as much time as I can for friends, but school has to come first.”