College is expensive. No matter where you go, what you do, or how many times you budget and then re-budget there is no escaping the fact that being a college student means forever being broke. Luckily, there’s a way to help your wallet not feel as thin, and it’s the four letter word we all love to hate: work.
There’s a reason people are always talking about how poor college kids are, and why Ramen Noodles have basically become the icon of college kids, and it’s because our wallets are usually just as empty as our refrigerators. Whether you’re a high school student starting to think about college or a fellow college senior my message is the same – get a job. Any job.
All jobs have a salary. Whether it be a minimum wage job for a couple hours a week, or an internship that pays $15 dollars an hour, any job will help the cause. Working three hours a week for minimum wage certainly won’t pay for your $300 textbook, but it will buy you a couple burritos with your friends (I now use burritos as a measurement. Every paycheck I get is converted into amount of burritos I can buy). If not Chipotle, it could pay for a trip to the movies, Wegmans, or drinks at the bar (IF you’re 21). The social experience is why a college job can make a difference, because it allows you to have the resources to make memories and enjoy yourself away from the classroom. These resources are actually available to you in many ways, and I have found that finding a job may not be as hard as you think.
We often perceive getting a job to be a horribly stressful process, but a benefit of being a college student is the vast amount of job options available to you. On campus job fairs are a great tool and I highly recommend using them. Nazareth, for example, has a job fair during the first weekend of the school year in which departments seek part time workers for on campus jobs. Post office workers, weight room attendees, shuttle drivers, and career services assistants are just four of the many on campus job openings per year. A huge perk of these on campus job compared to an off campus job is the schedules are much more flexible and typically you can give an estimate of the amount of hours you are looking for. I have three jobs on campus, and all three of them gave me the option of choosing how many hours a week I wanted to work. In the end, off campus jobs are perfectly acceptable as well, and while they may be less flexible, they do offer an opportunity for higher wages.
I started working in admissions at Nazareth second semester of freshman year and had only two hours a week, and while the thirty dollar paychecks weren’t much, it was certainly more than the zero dollars I was making previously. First semester, when I didn’t have a job, I was forced to use money I had saved up and I ended up spending much more than I anticipated. I didn’t buy anything crazy expensive and didn’t even spend money on a consistent basis, but purchases add up. While they were only small charges for the most part, four months of using my savings ended up being quite a bit.
Whether it’s on or off campus, I recommend everyone have some sort of income big or small during their college career, so, at the very least, you have enough spending money to enjoy yourself. Get a small simple job and use it as a means to make memories during your college career, because in the end those are things you’re going to take with you.