Working longer hours might affect students’ academic performance

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Students working part-time jobs while attending college full-time is nothing new. At K-State, there are a variety of resources that are ready to assist any student looking for a part-time job. However, if not balanced correctly, having a part-time job could effect a student’s academic performance.

Jodi Kaus, director of Powercat Financial Counseling, said that maintaining harmony among different aspects of life is the key to working while going to school.

“There is a balance that must be found between work and achieving an education,” Kaus said. “The key is finding that appropriate balance so that study time is not diminished by hours spent working.”

Michelle Haupt, coordinator
of Academic and Career Information Center, said she thinks students that work too many hours while attending classes are put in a bind.

“Students
who work too many hours coupled with a full-time class schedule are
essentially trying to hold down two full-time jobs,” Haupt said. “It makes sense that
they are not
able to do both successfully.”

Clive Fullagar, professor of psychological sciences, said that he thinks that working longer hours while attending classes enhances our cognitive abilities. He said he is particularly interested in a concept called “flow” – when a person is absorbed in their work to the extent that they forget about time and other responsibilities.

“From interviews and research that has been done with athletes we know that often when you are in the zone you are usually performing at an optimal level as well,” Fullagar said.

Fullgar also said that students that learn to balance various tasks, including working and going to class, begin to raise their level of self-confidence.

“It basically helps you build resources that enable you to resist stress or cope with stress,” Fullagar said. “If you enjoy doing the work, you are more likely to persist and work through the problems that are involved with that task, there’s a greater level of self-confidence.”

Fullagar also said that students who work only because they have to are usually the students that lose interest quickly and don’t enjoy their tasks.

“I think if you are working long hours out of a sense of obligation, then it has a stressful effect,” Fullagar said. “But if you’re working on something that interests you, then it has an energizing effect.”

Jed Oesterreich, senior in computer engineering, said that he disagrees with Fullagar.

I feel like working long hours while going to school does affect my academic performance,” Oesterreich said. “This
semester has been pretty good; I have a boss that is really willing
to work with me on when I come into work and how long I come in for. But
last semester I had to work longer shifts at a different company and I
definitely noticed a performance hit.

Oesterreich also said that by working while attending class, he learned a very important life skill.

Working
long hours during school for me really forced me to manage my time
better, which is a good thing, but it doesn’t allow for you to give
academics the best of
your time,”
Oesterreich said.

Oesterreich also said that his social life took a hit when he was working long hours during the semester.

I
also found that when working and in school you don’t have much of a
social life either, which is an important part of college as well,”
Oesterreich said. “It
really makes you set your priorities and make sacrifices.”

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