Opinion: Both on- and off-campus jobs have benefits, drawbacks


There are many perks for having a job while enrolled as a college student: experience is added to your resume, you receive income and your time is used more wisely rather than wasted on Netflix. MarketWatch reports that 80 percent of college students currently work part-time during the school year, averaging 19 hours a week in addition to their course loads.

Students have some flexibility here, though, as they can choose to either or on or off campus.

The preference between on- and off-campus jobs varies depending on a student’s unique situation. Job satisfaction, required hours, amount of pay, schedule flexibility and travel distance are important factors in deciding whether or not the job is the best fit for you.

As a college student with difficult course loads and extracurricular activities, time is very valuable. Most on-campus jobs are very flexible with schedules due to the amount of students the university employs. For some of these jobs, students can fill out a “(substitution) slip” for days that they are unable to work and have their shift taken by other available students who are looking for more hours. This gives students more opportunities to make money based on their own schedule.

According to the K-State website, common jobs listed for students are retail positions within on-campus stores, clerical work, science and research assistance, on-campus summer camp counseling and various work-study programs.

Many students are currently employed at the dining centers on campus (like I used to be), which is just a short distance away from the residence halls. Employees who work at Kramer, Van Zile or Derby Dining Center experience very flexible times and easy work schedules within a family-friendly environment right down the hall. Meal shifts range from two to three hours for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Many positions are available such as cook, dish room, servers, etc.

Off-campus jobs tend to be a bit more strict with schedules. A casual survey of students has revealed the trend that some off-campus jobs have no problem with terminating workers who have conflicts with working the weekends, due to spending their time on homework and studying or even resting from an exhausting week. Of course this may not be same the case for every single off-campus job.

Another plus with on-campus jobs is that students don’t need to allot for much travel time, especially if they live in the residence halls. Traveling to work from their rooms can be just a trip downstairs.

For those who work off-campus, however, they may need to travel as far as Tuttle Creek Reservoir or Manhattan Town Center for their jobs. While cars can reduce how long it takes for students to get to their off-campus jobs, many may lack that option and have to walk.

Money is another important factor when deciding on where many would like to work. Some students are independent and need a decent paying job to pay for housing, tuition, books and other things. Some jobs off-campus can even offer starting salaries a few dollars above the current state minimum wage.

Most students who start working on-campus will most likely start out being paid minimum wage. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, minimum wage in the state of Kansas is $7.25 per hour. Few on-campus jobs may promote student employees each semester based on their performance. That work ethic is likely to translate into success in academic areas of life as well.

“Students who work a modest number of hours per week (10-15 hours), on-campus, are more likely than other students – even students who do not work at all – to persist and earn degrees,” Laura Perna, professor in education at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a 2012 US News article.

Off-campus jobs might pay a little better depending on the job. Students who work off-campus have jobs where they may make a little more than others, such as servers in local restaurants or bars in Aggieville or retail in the mall. Although they are usually paid $2.13 an hour, the majority of their paycheck comes from the tips they make. Jobs based on primarily tips may be hard to depend on for a consistent paycheck, since the people you serve choose what you are paid.

The final decision really comes down to what you desire in a job. Some seek a job with flexibility in scheduling or to make money while working on school work. Others may seek a higher salary to help pay for their college and personal expenses. Many simply want it to be fun and near their residences.

In the end, the judgement of on- or off-campus jobs is solely based on the desire and situation of the student. If salary is important to you and you are able to travel a bit farther as well as having no problem working practically whenever, there are great opportunities off-campus. If flexibility and distance are important to you and your school work, a trip to work could be just a 10 minute walk away.