Your first semester in college, whether you are thousands of miles from home or just down the road, is propped up to be some of the most memorable months of your life. Between strange classes and meeting a plethora of new people, the last thing you want to add on your plate is a job right off the bat. Sure you may need the extra cash, but is it really worth sacrificing the social life of your first semester? The answer is yes.
The purpose of work study is to provide students the opportunity to earn money on campus in order to pay for supposedly school-related things. If work study is available on your financial aid plan, it means that you need it. The college, university, and government encompass the fact that they expect you to earn money while at school and therefore give you less direct aid, such as loans and grants, to afford school. Without that bi-weekly paycheck, students are expected not to have enough cash to pay for things like tuition or books. The same rules apply when students deny loan packages. Not accepting your work study package is almost like a financial death wish.
The secondary benefactor of accepting a work study position during the first semester of your first year is that it teaches students who may have not had the opportunity to work in the past real life skills, such as how to manage money in the next level of the real world. Receiving paychecks and distributing them between needs and wants is a skill students will no doubt learn when working. Students will also be able to meet new people from co-workers to faculty and foster relationships that could potentially help in the future. No matter what your career in life is, connections are important to have and often lead to job, internship, or scholarship opportunities. You also may make genuine friends, especially if the first thing you’re really involved in at the beginning of your first year is working. Other benefits of accepting work study include obtaining skills such as professional communication, organization, and time management.
Sometimes finding a job off campus may sound more appealing than accepting work study because you can work more hours or you have more of a choice about where you want to work. Part-time jobs outside of campus do allow you to work more hours than work study, but more often than not, they demand you to work more hours than work study. The pro to having a work study position is that it is a school job; the school acknowledges that you are most importantly a student and therefore can work around different obligations more easily than a normal job can. On top of that, there really are a variety of work study positions; often your school will tailor your position to your interests. If you aren’t really that strong academically, the school can employ you as a referee for intramural games for example. Instead of working as a random department store employee, you can work in your favorite subject, sport, or other interest.
As a first-year student who rejected her work study opportunity for her first semester, I am really missing that $2500. Not only did I have to take out an extra government loan, I drained all of my saved money on books and tuition and I am still struggling to find funds to pay for next semester’s costs. Luckily for me I have a friend who was able to offer me a position at my school’s community service office next semester and am now in a work study position. I learned that accepting the work study package is a vital part of my finances for affording college, and without, I was stressed and always short on money. Now I feel a lot more secure and will be learning valuable and transferable skills to benefit my future.