University of Washington Alumni Association
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Columns Votes - December 2006
Comments on Working and Going to School
Having to work to pay for my education made me appreciate it more. I took two separate years off during my college years and worked full-time doing office work. I learned from that experience that I didn’t want to do that kind of work for the rest of my life so when I went back to college I was motivated to do well. I think it’s best to have students work some to afford college so they don’t depend on entitlements.
Spending my own money kept me focused on finishing in four years. Working at a restaurant 30 hours a week also kept me well fed.
It taught me to budget my time and that since I was paying for the education, I sure as heck better make it worthwhile. When I started dental school at the UW, I was better prepared to study than many of my classmates. I still had time to enjoy football games and college life.
Having to work was positive in that it focused me, but it put a huge burden on me while in school. Having such an emphasis on money, and the fear of not being able to finish, was sometimes to the detriment of my education.
After working full time and going to school full and part time, I have a strong appreciation for other working students that did the same. If I was hiring, I would offer the job to the applicant that worked while in school, if all other applicant attributes were equivalent.
The number of hours I worked in any given quarter had a direct relationship to my GPA. quarters when I didn’t work at all, my GPA was at least a half a point higher. Another negative was that extracurricular activities and student friendships took a back seat to work and studying. On the positive side, the impact of working helped lead to future success in the business world. Jumping into a law practice with an already well-developed ability to juggle multiple obligations, to communicate efficiently, and with a strong work ethic was very beneficial. And while I didn’t develop a vast network of friends from school, the relationships I had time to develop were strong and lasting. Finally, graduating with only a moderate amount of debt provided flexibility to choose a job I wanted, not a job I needed to pay my bills, and the opportunity to get into a house all the niceties of the American dream much more quickly than I see occurring now with graduates who graduate with substantially larger debt load.
I did dot realize until I was much older how stressful it was paying for my own education, but I didn’t have a choice. I did not know about loans at the time. Today I would try to find out if there were loans or grants available. There was a good independent group available so I did make friends and have somewhat of a social life, but there were many things I couldn’t do because of my work load.
I treated my academic activities (including collegiate sports) as full time work. So my term breaks were the moments that I worked as much as possible in order to avoid part-time work while attending school.
I had to work so much during college, that it had a negative impact on both my experience and time. My grades suffered because of the amount of time I spent working.
Working two jobs made it hard to compete for grades with those who did not work. During one year I worked 60 hrs a week to get by...
I worked the equivalent of .5-.8FTE while in college and I feel this actually enhanced my experience as I truly saw the cost of the education and applied myself to my studies accordingly. I was able to get some student loans and it has taken YEARS to pay them back, but I would do it all over again without reservation. I was not able to work an outside job while in medical school (not enough hours in the day)—but I think the time I spent at UW prepared me to succeed at med school.
I worked in an Alaska salmon cannery in the summers. During my junior and senior years, I also worked at campus catering for some additional income. It was good to learn those lessons about the value of money.
I think that I valued my education more than my peers. I never missed class because it was my hard earned money that was financing my education.
Pulling guts out of salmon in Alaska 18 hours a day, seven days a week alongside a bunch of middle aged substance abusers during my college summers made me appreciate my the college experience and motivated me to stay in school. I thought, “If I’m doing this work when I’m 40, I can’t regard my work life a success.” Fortunately, I’m doing nothing close and consider myself reasonably successful.
I lived at home and commuted; that was my parents’ contribution. My grades suffered as I had to work 40 hours a week. When I tried to switch to Geology I was unable to hack the more demanding work and had no social life.