Higher costs lead some to juggle multiple jobs

Courtney Kerrigan

Students used to worry about working after graduating college. Now, they sometimes work up to two or three jobs while juggling classes just to pay rent and car payments on time.

Sophomore human development and family studies major Ashley Workman works at the campus bookstore and Safer Futures, a domestic violence shelter in Portage County, and said she’s worked multiple jobs consecutively for the past two or three years.

With 25 to 30 hours a week dedicated to work, Workman is also a full-time student and admitted that she had to drop a class, leaving her with 14 credit hours.

Academic adviser Ben Stenson has heard of situations similar to Workman’s and said if students can try to work as little as possible, they’ll do better academically.

“For every credit hour, students should be studying two to three hours outside of class, so for a 15 hour credit load that’s another 30 hours of study time minimum,” Stenson said. “That’s a 45 hour work week just in academics.”

He added if students also put in another 20 to 30 hours into their jobs, they’re going to face a busy week.

“A lot of the time, work and finances are going to come before study time, but that means missing valuable time to study outside of class,” he said.

Although Workman spends a lot of her time working, she maintains a 3.75 GPA and said she is able to work on homework when there’s downtime at the shelter or late at night.

“I just have to prioritize—that’s a big thing,” Workman said. “I don’t go out as much as a normal college kid because I do have to worry about money.”

Workman pays for most of her own tuition, but said her paychecks mainly go toward her new car and other bills that go along with living off campus.

“I live in a duplex, and the bare minimum loan I have covers rent. But utilities, my car payment and insurance come out of my paycheck,” she said. “After all of that, though, I do have a little money left over.”

Workman said sometimes she only has $10 or $15 left in her bank account, but she’s never had to ask her mom for money.

“It used to stress me out a lot, but you just kind of have to tell yourself that you’ll be fine,” she said.

N.J. Akbar, assistant director of Student Success Programs, said it is possible and manageable for students to handle both work and school, but said he wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t necessary.

“Students will have to be a little bit more disciplined and make more sacrifices than students who don’t have to deal with these issues,” Akbar said.

Workman said she doesn’t drink or smoke, which cuts down on a lot of unnecessary spending, and her and her boyfriend car pool and use Netflix a lot because they don’t have cable.

She added that they split groceries and use coupons to save money, but they probably eat out more than they should.

“It’s really not that hard if you just know where your money is going, and to make sure that you set aside some money to pay your bills and do the stuff that you enjoy,” Workman said.

Akbar added if students don’t recharge their batteries and get their necessary sleep, then their busy schedules are going to take a toll in every facet of their lives.

“Sometimes it takes falling or not succeeding in balancing everything to understand that students don’t have all the skills to juggle both,” Akbar said. “It will be difficult and it will be challenging, but students can do it.”

Graduate student Ashley Hendricks experienced failing one too many times while juggling work and school.

As a junior, she had to retake a molecular biology course because she was struggling and wasn’t able to make it to office hours.

“It’s hard when professors have office hours and you can’t go to them because you have to work,” Hendricks said. “If I’d actually been able to go to the office hours and talked to the professor, I don’t think I would have had to retake it.”

That same year, she got in a car accident in a rush to get to work because her boss wanted her there directly after class.

Nothing serious happened to the graduate student, but she admits that it was one of the worst moments she’s had to deal with.

Hendricks worked multiple jobs as an undergraduate student to pay for school, rent and her car, but said since then, she has moved home with her parents to save money.

As a graduate student, she works at the Kent Food Co-Op, at her parent’s dental office and as a babysitter on the side.

Although she only has nine credit hours this semester, Hendricks said her grades might not be as good if she had to take more classes.

“It’s really hard when you’re forced to have four classes and a job, because when you add up the hours of how much time is spent working and how much is spent on school, it’s insane,” Hendricks said.

She has never skipped any classes for work, but said she’s had a boss tell her to come in to work instead of going to class.

“In my opinion, it’s not fair because people who have the money to afford school don’t have to work and can focus on their school,” she said. “I think it’s a problem for a lot of students at Kent State, and it’s not the most expensive school out there, but it is expensive.”

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reporter Courtney Kerrigan

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