Work + college = struggle

Online Editor

The cost of attending college has risen faster than the average family income. Loans and scholarships may cover the majority cost of education for some, but students face more obstacles outside the classroom.

Child care, housing and transportation are necessities not only for attending college but for life, and these necessities cost more than most loans can cover. 

A 2017 study from the U.S. department of education found that 10% of full-time undergraduates also work more than 35 hours a week. 

I’m juggling 13 semester hours and a full-time job. When I decided to return to college, I knew I wouldn’t be able to quit my job and find something part-time. 

I need the health insurance that full-time employment offers, and I have bills to pay. I’m paying tuition out of pocket and I nearly cried when an entire paycheck went toward books for a single semester. 

Working and studying full-time means working on assignments during my lunch break, staying late at the office to make up for time spent in a classroom and going weeks between meeting with friends. 

It looks like a dry-erase calendar, color coded sticky notes and the largest sized iced coffee sold at Roasters. It sounds like a television program I was interested in going unnoticed in the background while I study and hushed phone calls when I need to call the school at work. 

Those nights I wake up from nightmares about missed assignments, I must ask myself: is the effort even worth it? Being unable to find work with a degree is common enough that it’s turned into another meme of millennials. 

The current conversations about worker shortages and tax-evading billionaires are leading to an increase in an anti-work attitude.

I don’t think most students attend college under the assumption that things will be easy. Some of us attend for upward social mobility, or because the idea has been sold to us since childhood that if you just work hard, in four years you’ll be handed a six-figure salary. Many of us actually find ourselves choosing between hard-to-repay student loans or working for tuition. 

In the end, we have to remain hopeful. I’m pursuing a degree for many of those reasons, but also because I wanted to learn. I wanted to change my path. In a few years, I hope to look back on all the hard work and be able to say, “It was worth it.”

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