A Necessary Evil

by Shelby White

Education & Career, Featured, In My Opinion

Now that it is my second year in college, one could say that I’ve gotten the hang of the college life. I’ve managed to keep my GPA at an A- average, get involved in school, and even gain experience in my chosen field of study. This past year has been difficult academically and personally, but college is not meant to be easy; instead it is a time of preparation for the future. But even with all of the new experiences, nothing has been more challenging lately than juggling college and the work force. As of July 2nd, 2012, I received my first job as an “Outreach Ambassador”. An Outreach Ambassador assists new students in registering for classes and reaches out to our community about the benefits of attending El Camino College: Compton Center by visiting churches and local high schools. My first day at work, I realized, by hearing co-workers speak amongst themselves, that working and going to school is not only a privilege for most students, but a responsibility.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2007, nearly half (45%) of “traditional” undergraduates (students between the ages of 16 and 24) worked while attending college full time. In addition, 80% of traditional undergraduates worked while attending school part time. Since 2007, the numbers have increased, full time students working from 45% to 57%. Before I started working, I would have found these numbers to be extremely outrageous. But now that I am, I understand the reasons of stress behind the students and the pressure of attaining jobs during this crucial time of our lives. In today’s society, most college students decide to work while attending school not because they enjoy it, but for economical reasons and the higher expectations of our generation. As my friend Briana told me one day, “for me, working right now is a necessary evil.”

Economically, most college students depend on their part and full time jobs to support them. With the financial aid and loans students have on the community college and university level, the minimum wage jobs we can find close to campus give us some security to provide the basic necessities. Also, working and attending school simultaneously assists us with getting jobs we will attain in the future. My boss always tells us, his student workers, “By working here, I’m helping you develop skills that will be crucial in the future.” Isn’t that what college students need? We plan to get career related jobs once college is done. But the world wants us already “established as a writer” or “have experience working with kids” in order to get hired for the jobs we studied about in college. The expectations for getting hired these days are higher than ever which makes working while being educated a necessity.

Whether it be a big name university or the local community college, working has become the basis of responsibility for college students. Being employed and being educated at the same time is a part of the experience and maturity that will continue to prepare me for the future. Although working these past few weeks has added stress and keeps me going to bed early, it’s important. I take pride in the necessary evil that is being an employed college student.

One Comment on "A Necessary Evil"

  1. Nailah Lee Jul 31, 2012 · 9:45 am

    Great article! I’m older now and my first two jobs were at ages 16 and 18 and the skills I learned at an early age still guide me today. It may be a struggle but the benefits will outweigh the strain. Stay encouraged.

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