After you get past your freshman year of college and you’ve got a good handle on what kind of time demands your coursework is going to require, you may run into this extremely common dilemma about how you should spend your “free” (non-studying) time:
Should I use my spare hours for academic pursuits/personal growth, or should I get a job and work because I’m broke as hell and I need money?
Alicia at UCLA is going through a variation on that dilemma right now.
Hello Judge Josh,
My questions concern the upcoming school year as a sophomore at UCLA. I currently have a partial plan of what courses I am going to take for fall quarter, which leaves me with room for either a work-study job or getting into research.
What about a smaller amount of research and a job with fewer hours per week so that you can do both? (FORESHADOWING ALERT!)
However, my parents want me to go into work-study to start earning money to pay my tuition,
Can’t blame ’em for that….
while I would rather like to get into research
and of course, that’s natural, too.
(I already feel behind in finishing everything because I have many more prerequisites to finish for my major, chemistry).
Well, if you’re just beginning your sophomore year, how behind can you really be? Just curious.
I am not sure what to do because I sincerely want to start doing something worthwhile with my education rather than just learn material day in and day out.
Just for the record here, that’s a great attitude to have. Lots of students just “punch the clock,” as it were, learning whatever they need to know for tests and then moving on. The ones who really try to learn all the material and then go out and independently augment their own learning are the ones who eventually do very well, in my experience.
But work study does seem like a helping hand in this critical moment of not receiving much money from the school or from outside sources
Yeah, it’s great, I think. Exactly HOW great it is depends on your actual job, I suppose — library clerk or computer lab work probably beats sweating it out in a cafeteria somewhere — but swapping a few hours a week at a job in exchange for a tuition chunk is pretty sweet.
(I am currently applying to scholarships using your tips, but alas I still have no good luck in receiving positive responses, or any responses for that matter).
It’s a bitch out there, man. Keep your chin up.
Please provide much-needed feedback, and I thank you for your efforts to your audience!
Yeah, the time battle between things like research that Alicia wants to do (academic/personal enrichment stuff) and working for cash is a timeless one because both are really important. Yeah, I suppose money will always come first if you’re forced to choose, but if you didn’t care about learning and academics and such, then you probably wouldn’t be in college in the first place, would you?
One thing that immediately jumps out at me for you, Alicia, is the possibility of killing two birds with one stone. Have you looked into work-study jobs that involve research? I don’t know how work-study jobs get assigned at a huge school like UCLA, but it’s at least worth looking into. I only mention this because I had one work-study job during college, and it was a research gig. So I know the jobs are out there, at least in some places.
If you can’t score a work-study job doing research, then a natural compromise seems to be going half and half. If you were planning on 20 hours of either work or research, why not do 10 hours apiece? Assuming your folks could live with that compromise, which seems reasonable enough to me.
A third idea would be to go the research route and then get your own job off-campus to make money. That’s pretty common. Waiting tables or bartending anyplace at or above the Chili’s/Applebee’s level ought to make you quite a bit more cash than similar hours put in at a minimum-wage work-study job.
That’s my advice for the day. What about you — what do you think Alicia should do? Let us know in the comments below.