Working While at Uni

Studying and Work

By Taylor Gardner

With the ever increasing prices of textbooks, the cost of rent, along with electricity and gas bills, or for those living at home the expenses of travelling to and from uni every day; the decision to take up full time study can often land you in a less-than-comfortable financial situation.

It is undeniable that students today have a slightly disreputable image. The occupation title “student” comes hand in hand with pictures of teens sleeping in until 3pm, binge watching every single episode of every single programme ever aired on Netflix, and splurging their daily calorific intake on pot noodles and cheap alcohol. Regardless of these – often extremely inaccurate – misconceptions, undergraduate study should be considered in the same way any job is. Being a full-time student is, as suggested in the title, a full time job.

A recent study By Santander found that as much as 61% of students now work during term time. Although any student can apply for a student loan regardless of their financial background, the sum offered may not stretch to cover the ever increasing cost of living. In first year induction lectures, students are often advised not to take on any more than 12 hours of part time work a week, or they run the risk of hindering their ability to keep up with coursework. As a student who works between 12 and 25 hours a week, and often struggles to find the time to catch up on notes or get the reading done for class the next day, I now understand completely why this 12 hour maximum is insisted. However for many financially independent students a 12 hour a week contract on minimum wage is never going to provide enough money to pay rent, meet bills, eat, travel, and of course keep up this never-ending-party lifestyle we are supposed to have.

It is a fair point to make that there are of course benefits that come with working part time whilst studying. Graduating university after four years with no work experience, in the eyes of a potential employee, is going to set you straight back into that category of the netflix-binge-watching-potnoodle-eating indolent. Although the most popular industries for working undergraduates include retail and catering, professions that may not be directly connected to their final degree or desired career, any form of work experience shows the kind of skills future employees are looking for.

The ability to successfully juggle your coursework with a part time job is one which can be learnt solely through practice. It also shows a strong level of dedication if you are able to stick with a job throughout the academic year. Along with the benefit of providing crucial work experience for future employment, many students simply enjoy working. If moving to a new city to study, getting a job can be one of the best ways to meet new people and to start to get to know your surroundings, along with learning a new skill and of course taking full advantage of any job perks you may receive.

Studies have shown students can often leave university with debts as high as £50,000, with many paying back their student loans well into their 50s. With this in mind it doesn’t seem such a bad idea to spend your Saturday mornings sorting out clothes rails or pouring cups of coffee while your flatmates remain in bed. However we shouldn’t feel guilty or worried about graduating in debt, it is much more beneficial to make the most out of your time at university right now. You will thank yourself later, a small percentage of your monthly salary after you graduate will probably have little effect on you in the future but can make a big difference now, think of it as a gift from your future you to current you.}