University of Washington Alumni Association
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Columns Votes - December 2006
Comments on Working and Going to School
Work during school and during summer break paid for the majority of my expenses and provided important life lessons in work experience and money management.
It was a struggle to get through my doctoral program and raise my daughter on my own, but I am glad that I did not go into debt.
I had to work 24-28 hours per week and I think I would have gotten a lot more out of my education had I had the means to pay for college otherwise. I got four scholarships over my time at the university, which was also helpful.
Since I had to work to pay my way through college I didn’t experience all that I could have. I’ve come across people in my professional life who fondly talk about their college years. I look back and realize I experienced the Academic part of college but didn’t fully experience the whole college life with other activities. It was school then off to work. I didn’t go to football games until after I graduated. I never went to social functions or participated in activities. I even had a hard time participating in group assigned projects because of time commitments. I’m 48 now and I have no memories of my college days except I went to the U-Dub.
It was very hard to pay for school. I worked three jobs in the summer and one or two during the school year. I wish that I had more help and I could focus more on school and get better grades. It has formed my very strong work ethic so overall it has helped my career.
It caused me to be more focused, especially as I worked more hours into my junior and senior years. I had to increase my time management skills exponentially as time went on. The only regret is some of the missed social experiences but all in all I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
It would have been wonderful to spend all of my time studying just for the sake of studying, but I do value my UW education a lot more than my friends who didn’t have to pay for their own degrees.
The burden of paperwork, agreements, and eking out a living takes away from focusing on studies but works well to prepare one for life and career.
If I hadn’t needed to work three jobs to pay for school, I believe I would have received better grades and had a more positive education experience.
I had my first year and a half paid for, at a community college, with money my parents had saved. After that, I paid for all of my tuition at UW with financial aid and by working. Had I not had to work, my grades may have been a little better, maybe a 3.0 instead of a 2.8. But overall, it helped teach me responsibility and made me work harder at getting better grades because I was paying for school myself.
Working made it almost impossible to take part in on campus activities other than attending classes.
I missed the “premium experiences.” Didn’t do study abroad, didn’t spend any time in labs, commuted to campus and worked 20 hours a week while school was in session and 40 when it wasn’t. Lived on a very tight budget with no health insurance, no car, no dinner dates. On the other hand, my work experience on campus led me into the career in which I’m still engaged 25+ years later.
I feel I had to work too much which was detrimental to my studies but did not qualify for enough financial aid to decrease my work schedule.
Working half time while trying to carry 12+ credits per quarter was a challenge—the schedule sometimes interfered with study time and limited my participation in UW extra-curricular activities. But considering the high value that I place on my UW degree (and the opportunities it provided), I have no reason to complain.
I was fortunate not to have big student loan debt for my undergraduate degree. Working long hours in the summer didn’t provide me with a vacation but it did provide me with a secondary education in real life, as well as enable me to have the freedom to get a History degree which was not the most economically beneficial degree.
I would have liked to work less so I could focus more on school, but the experiences I gained working provided access to jobs post-graduation. I wouldn’t change things, but I wish I would have had less to worry about and just been a student.
Work was necessary and provided valuable life experiences, but my student experience suffered. A small loan my senior year eased a little of the work-vs.-school stress. I have helped my children with half of their education & living expenses, enabling them to have some time available for the student experience while still taking ownership of their own education and future.