The Second Job: A Day in the Life of a Working College Student

By Amanda Eldreth

Elm Staff Writer

Professors expect students to view attending college as a full-time job; they expect us to spend X amount of hours out of the classroom studying and completing homework in order to achieve satisfactory grades and education. Don’t get me wrong; this is college, the next step in our education…yet another step towards the ‘real world’. We all knew what we were getting into, especially in choosing Washington College.

What professors refuse to acknowledge is what many students do outside the classroom, and no, I do not mean hanging out with friends, partying, or just plain procrastinating either. Financially, college has become something for the affluent or the struggling. So where does that leave those stuck in the middle, too rich for financial aid but poor enough to need loans?


Numerous students, myself included, are working on or off campus in order to pay off student loans and afford college. My freshman year was dedicated solely to my education, but I found my money supply running low since I only had an income over winter and spring breaks that had to last. Over this past summer, I did manage to find a job fifteen minutes from campus at Great Oak Manor, a bed and breakfast located just outside Chestertown. Subconsciously, I knew if things worked out, the location was perfect for when school started back up and my summer job has yet to end.

On average, I work around 20 hours a week, and I know there are students on campus working even more. With having a job and being a student, there is little time for a social life if good grades are important to attain. Aside from just homework, professors have office hours that fall during times when students have to be at work and some professors have homework available on Blackboard for limited amounts of time. Professors appear to give no consideration to student workers, part- or full- time, and I cannot see how this is fair. However, as far as solutions go, I have none other than the obvious: one or the other, a choice many cannot afford to make.

I lucked out in having the opportunity to work at Great Oak under the management of John and Cassandra Fedas; as far as bosses go, they are highly understanding of college workloads. If I have homework I can bring it to work, and I have even been permitted to leave a shift early in order to work on an important paper. I know I am spoiled by having bosses who put school first; because most jobs are not as flexible as mine. Many employers put their needs first and, similarly, professors put their individual classes first and working students are caught in the middle.

Even though my experience being a working college student has not been as horrible as others’, free time is sacrificed in order to work and maintain excellent grades. Last year I was witness to how difficult it is to juggle working, going to school, and attempting to have a social life. A friend, who I will keep anonymous, was working three part time jobs, one of which was off campus, while also having six classes. I barely saw her because when she would get off work around ten at night, she would stay up well past four in the morning doing homework. I, myself, have already been guilty of sleepless nights in order to get homework done after working.

Being a working college student means sacrifice and little free time, but unfortunately, many of us cannot avoid the need to have a steady income of our own. This may be college, but that does not mean our primary focus can be on  courses. There has to be some give somewhere. I’m not suggesting leniency for those who work, but there should be some understanding from both employers and professors , who have all probably been in our shoes before.

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