Pros and Cons of Having a Job In College

College student working as a barista mixing coffee on the counter.

Flickr user Alper Çuğun

There are a multitude of reasons students will take up a job in college–paying for tuition, want additional income, are eager for work experience, want to build up their resumes, etc.

To many, finding a college job seems like a no brainer since tuition is expensive. Others might worry about the quality of their grades dropping since the work schedule conflicts with study time.

There are pros and cons to any big decision, and here are the ups and downs of having a job while in college.

Pros of Having a Job in College:


We’ve already said it: college is expensive. Even after scholarships and other forms of financial aid are taken into consideration, some fees will still have to be paid out of pocket. Having a job with a steady income can ease financial stress.

Of course, maybe you just want some spending money. Who wouldn’t want to eat out on the town every once in a while; meals in the dining hall can get so repetitive. Or maybe you want to go to a nearby theme park or concert and blow off some steam after midterms. Whatever the reason, having a bit of extra cash is always great.


Having any sort of job while in college looks great on a resume. It tells employers you can balance an intense schedule and are hard working. Working a job adds valuable experience to your repertoire and gives you a chance to gain contacts that will give you recommendations or networking opportunities.

Grade Booster

Believe it or not, studies show that having a job in college can actually have a positive impact on your GPA. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that students who worked 20 hours a week (or less) had higher GPAs than their fellow students who didn’t work at all! Hard work really does pay off–in more ways than one.

Cons of Having a Job in College:

Time (or Lack Thereof)

Time spent working is not time spent studying, catching up on class readings, or sleeping. Even working a reasonable amount–like 10, 15, 20 hours a week–can mean losing valuable time elsewhere. Priorities can clash and you might find yourself with less time to properly relax.

Additionally, having a college job might cause some scheduling conflicts. Maybe you get off the clock only fifteen minutes before your next class starts. Or the job you’ve had gets in the way of a lecture you really want to / need to take for the upcoming semester. Maybe your friends are planning to go to some big school-sponsored event but you can’t go because it’s in the middle of your shift. Whatever the case may be, a job can get in the way of things.

Grade Killer

Jobs can be both a blessing and a curse. We already talked about how a student working 20 hours or less can have a higher GPA than their peers, but students working more than that can actually have the reverse effect. Too much working and not enough studying can lead to lower test scores and grades.


Between so much work and class, it can leave a student feeling burned out and exhausted–not ideal for memorizing material. College is already a stressful time, and a job can sometimes add to that anxiety. If a student isn’t organized or prioritized enough, adding the burden of work on top of that can overload their system.

Keep these points in mind while you consider taking a job while studying in college!