Learning while earning

Every student’s college experience is unique depending on aspects ranging from their involvement during their time at a university to the use of resources provided to them on campus.

With many students commuting to and from school, while prioritizing their work obligations, this full plate may prevent students from enjoying extra-curricular activities on and off-campus.

Some colleges recommend that students dedicate a maximum of 10 to 15 hours a week to their part-time jobs, however many students are working far more hours. The U.S. Census reported that 71 percent of the nation’s 19.7 million college undergraduates were working in 2011.

Victoria Gonzalez, FIU senior majoring in advertising, has been working since her freshman year of college, and has figured out what works best when managing different responsibilities.

“I take the bus to and from class at The Biscayne [Bay] Campus, so I tend to get a lot of my work done on the bus. Just simple time management is really important to stay on top of my work,” said Gonzalez. “I also make sure to write everything down because with such a busy schedule, it’s simple to forget assignments.”

Proper task management is one of the many difficulties students who work face. However for Francisco Lujan, senior studying economics, the balance between work and school has become an easier process, learned through time.

“Balancing work and school is just a matter of managing your time correctly and having a flexible work schedule. I consider myself pretty lucky to have work and school schedules that don’t really overlap or collide in any way,” said Lujan. “However, regardless of the neatness of my schedule, I still find myself making plans to study in advance of any exams that I have.”

One factor that may motivate students to get part-time jobs is school tuition. According to a survey conducted by Citigroup three years ago, on average, parents paid for 37 percent of their children’s tuition. Today, the figures show they are only contributing about 27 percent.

With the rising cost of tuition each year, students may need to earn extra money to cover all of their expenses. While the survey suggested students are working 19 hours on average, many still work more than 20 hours a week, with some even managing full-time jobs.

For some students, juggling classes and work, and trying to find the time to be involved on campus can be especially difficult.

Gonzalez and Lujan explained that as commuter students, they doesn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to activities on campus.

“I definitely think this year I would’ve been much more involved if I didn’t have a job, whether it be with research or taking part of projects professors have set up,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez believes that if FIU were to reach out to students on an individual level, this could motivate them to take advantage of these services.

Reaching out to students individually instead of fairs or booths will make a huge impact in my opinion,” said Gonzalez. “I’ve been more inclined to participate when professors ask me individually or even to the whole class.”

The U.S. News Short List surveyed a list of 247 universities to identify the universities with the highest percentage of first-year students who commuted each semester.

FIU was ranked the No. 1 commuter campus in the list of top 10 universities, with 76 percent of first-year students commuting.

While many universities put together opportunities for students to build their careers based on their interests and majors through job or internships, as the Career and Talent Services department does at FIU, many students who commute and/or work may not have enough time to seek out these opportunities.

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