University of Washington Alumni Association
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Columns Votes - December 2006
Comments on Working and Going to School
While I was fortunate to be able to support myself at UW through work, my focus on studies suffered, particularly during the first two years. On the positive side, my work experience helped develop self-confidence and job skills that have served me throughout life.
I chose to live at home and be a commuter student to save money on my college education rather than attend a private university and/or live on campus. I went to community college first to cut down on the overall expense of college as well and transferred under the guaranteed transfer program for students who had an A.A. degree.
Going into debt for school would have resulted in a terrible financial weight. I worked plenty, studied, did not party and earned what I learned. Debt is a bad habit, even for school.
Working to pay for my own education helped to teach me the value of a dollar. I made a point to attend every class once I calculated how much money I wasted by skipping. My grades went up and I didn’t have to study as much. Although there were times that I was envious of my friends that didn’t have to work, I am proud to have financed the majority of my education myself.
Had to work full time to support tuition, board, etc. Made studying very challenging and limited my ability to enjoy “normal” college life. Class times made it so I had to go back and forth from work to class and made for very long days.
Working made it difficult to be involved in many of the typical college activities.
I was married with one child and did have the G.I. Bill (Korean) for some help. For three years I worked about 3/4 time and the last year I worked full time on construction job from 4 p.m. until midnight. All the work experience was very helpful but I feel that it did detract some from my grades.
I think that working definitely gave me practical experience besides school but if I could have had more scholarships and fewer loans it certainly would have helped me out. My family couldn’t help me pay for college so I think I probably would have qualified for the Washington Promise scholarship at the time.
I worked three jobs to get myself through school. While my school experience wasn’t necessarily a negative, I think it would have been enhanced by the opportunity to spend more time in student activities and academics, i.e. study, lectures, sports etc. I would advocate for working some from a responsibility and ethical perspective, but I also believe your college experience should be enjoyed. You have the rest of your life to work that hard. From a performance perspective—without the stress of worrying how to pay the bills, the focus could remain on your education and overall college experience.
Graduated with no debt. Working experiences led to developing of strong work/business ethics and to the development of successful business.
The jobs that I held were all on or near the campus. They all had a positive effect on my education.
By having to work my way through school meant it took me ten years to get my degree. While I’m really proud of my accomplishment, I wish I had been able to apply for financial aid to enjoy school life more. I never had the time to volunteer, attend or join any events or groups at the school. I’m glad I do not have any student loans now, but I wish my experience at school had been better.
It is difficult to work more than half time during the school year and have the time and energy to invest in learning—you can meet the basics and pass but are short-changing yourself the others in your discussion groups and your profs.
I started UW in Fall of l965 and graduated in l970. During this time, I paid l00% of my way through the work-study program and other jobs (waitressing, secretary, giving blood, etc). My last quarter, I took 22+ credits. I am not a bright or brilliant student...just a hard worker. In addition, I sent home money to my father. With good organization of time and energy, it is very possible to work and do well in college. I taught at the UW Extension Department, at Bellevue Community College in the Individual Development Department, and ESL. I taught at Meridian Alternative High School and other places. In addition, I have been a paralegal, the interim general manager of the Mendocino Transit Authority, Concessionaire for the North Cascades National Park, Stehekin Lodge, administrative assistant to Harriet Bullitt and co-owner with my husband of the Silver Bay Inn Resort in Stehekin for 25 years and featured in “Sunset” magazine. I believe in giving an assist through work programs but not paying the way in full. I think self-reliance is an asset as important as a college education ... no way should one get a “free ride” but should chip in and be self-reliant.
It was tough, and I attended during the Reagan years, when the GOP began cutting benefits to those in need, including no longer allowing students to claim on federal taxes interest paid on school loans. But working on campus in a location I wouldn’t have ordinarily gone (health sciences library) introduced me to people I wouldn’t have otherwise met, and that indeed enriched my experience. I just wish I’d been a little less hungry (minimum wage is not a sustainable wage no matter what year!).
Unfortunately working full-time while going to school full time meant neither got my 100% attention. But my bosses at work demanded full attention—they said work came first then education. I’m not against working while in school but a more understanding workplace would have been better.
I worked part-time during school and full-time during the summer and holidays. I paid for all (or almost all) of my expenses except my parents paid for most of my tuition and books. I had money in the bank when I graduated with a degree in chemical engineering and no debt. I think that students should aspire to working as much as they can without negatively affecting their studies. And it sure is easier to buy houses and other needed things after graduation without any or at least without substantial debt.