To Work or Not to Work During your Studies?

What are the Pros and Cons of Working as a Student?

To work or not to work while you study? That’s the big question most university students ask themselves. In the Netherlands, students from outside the EU/EEA are allowed to work 16 hours a week alongside their studies. Making a decision on this is quite challenging as there are many pros and cons to both sides of the coin. Wittenborg MBA student Hanna Abdelwahab made a cost-benefit analysis.

Benefits of Working Part-Time

  • Finance: First and foremost, working part-time can help you cover your cost of living more comfortably, and for some, help you to stay above water. More and more students are now working part-time to help them pay their tuition fees, accommodation, transport, food and a little extra for leisure or sports.
  • Independence: Working part-time teaches you independence and how to manage and budget your money. If before, your parents handed out money to you and paid everything for you, now it’s more likely that you have to learn to budget your money to ensure that you don’t miss your rent payment or your tuition fees. You may have to tighten your belt a little bit, but all is good if you know how not to overspend your money.
  • Time Management: Working part-time teaches you how to manage your time well. You will realise that you have less time now for play or doing unproductive activities. You will learn how to become more organised and utilise whatever little time you have for tasks that you need to complete.
  • Future Career: Part-time work can be a great stepping stone to a brighter career in your area of interest.  This experience will add credit to your portfolio and you definitely can showcase your job experience with your future employer after you graduate.
  • Soft and hard skills: Taking a part-time job related to your field of study can also provide you with the hard and soft skills required. Hard skills refer to skills like handling machines, or writing computer software, or preparing a dish. Soft skills refer to managing customer requests, negotiating skills, teamwork, initiative, leadership and creativity. These skills are pertinent to enabling you to land the job that you aspire to after graduation.

Where Things can Go Wrong Working Part-Time

  • Skipping Classes: Well, for one thing, the draw to make money is more attractive to most students than their studies. So many students don’t hesitate to skip lessons just to make that extra buck to fill their pockets. Students often absent themselves from classes or leave early or come late. This is definitely not wise, as they will miss a lot if they miss even one class or lecture. Such irresponsible acts can lead to low marks or even a fail in examinations.
  • Lethargy: Exhaustion is another issue that students have to reckon with if they work part-time. When they get home after work, they often feel too tired and dispirited to study or do their assignments. One day’s postponement or procrastination will cause students’ writing and reading assignments to pile up. And if this continues for many weeks, students will then come to the realisation that they cannot catch up any longer. It is indeed difficult to be disciplined if students work part-time, mostly due to the fact that they will be mentally and physically tired.
  • Concentration: Working part-time can also add to your anxiety and challenges in life, especially if you have a difficult employer or team players. Sometimes, problems at work affect students in class or at home, thus causing difficulties of concentration. Persistent anxieties and worries can also affect students psychologically and mentally.
  • When we compare the pros and cons of working part-time, it seems that the cons are more serious than the benefits. How can we reconcile the two?
  • Students must realise that studies always come first - that’s basically their aim, especially for international students, for coming to the Netherlands - to get a degree or master’s degree. So, in whatever they choose to do, their performance in their studies should be their topmost priority. A survey done by a group of students in their Business Statistics class in Block 2 revealed that many students who work part-time had performed badly in their examinations and had to retake many of their subjects.

So, what is the advice here? If you have performed badly in class because you have been working part-time, do take time to reconsider which is more important for you - studies or work? There is definitely no point in working if you’re going to fail multiple times in your exams. If you really need to work due to financial reasons, ensure that you make arrangements with your employer so that you don’t miss any classes, and that you take extra time off a week or two before your exams to concentrate on your revision. Another solution would be to opt for a full-summer job when you don’t have any classes or assignments.

The keyword here is honesty. Ask yourself - can you really cover that shift or job and complete your assignments or attend your classes regularly? Do you have enough time to revise before the examination? Do you really need the money to cover your basic expenses, or do you need the extra cash to satisfy your wants rather than your needs? Ponder these questions well. The answer is within you.

WUP 10/12/2019
by Hanna Adelwahab
©Wittenborg University Press

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