2 Feb 2015

Should you have a part-time job AND study?

As a student, you're always advised when you start university to not have a part-time job as well. And if you do have one in the first two years you should apparently have given it up by the time third year comes around. But some of us don't have that option. In fact most of us don't.

My rent is £85 a week with bills included which comes to around £1300 every quarter leaving very little student loan left to live on until the next loan comes around. So the reality is that students are being cornered into either living on the breadline with no social life - or to sacrifice their university grades to go to work. 



In my second year I was working almost 4 nights a week every single week, from 5pm until midnight which made doing an English degree very difficult. When you have, on average, 3 novels a week to read as I did, I was really leaving myself no time at all for university work but it was something I could not avoid in order to live. My weekly rent last year was £126 including bills and so with the £8000 fees a year too, I was left feeling crippled all for trying to better myself. You often have the students who visit home all the time and so they're spending less money on food, not buying washing machine tablets or shampoo as often, and all of the other little things which add up for others. But for those of us who make the conscious decision to live over two hours away by train, life can get kind of tough.

The pros to working while studying:
  • You can save money up to have a decent summer when the time comes around and everyone is booking festivals and holidays - you don't have to miss out. 
  • Your CV doesn't look like you've sat around for 3 years without gaining any real experience other than what the nightclubs look like. 
  • You can afford to eat right instead of microwave meals and noodles from Lidl (although sometimes there's just no other option).
  • You still have some sense of structure - my degree is only 10 hours a week so the rest of my days could just be spent lounging around with nothing to do.
  • It keeps your mind proactive instead of feeling homesick.
  • It makes you sleep at appropriate hours (well 1AM instead of 4/5AM) which is 100% times better.

The cons to working while studying:
  • You of course have less time to do university work.
  • You're always tired for university - if like me, your job is unsociable hours, sleep becomes essential for fitting everything in.
  • You miss nights out to go to work. Your social life may suffer - it just makes those rare nights out all the better. 
  • It becomes harder to arrange when you can visit home and when your friends can visit you. 

When asking around on the matter the responses were as I would have expected. Working is completely 'necessary' - there's no way we could afford things without it. Others said even staying at home and not moving away from home still found them with very little money to live off. For those who chose to do an MA it is crucial to work too, otherwise it would not be possible to continue their studies. There has been many success stories of those who worked and still came out with a solid 2:1 at the end of it.

Overall I think the general attitude towards students and their way of life is completely wrong. To laugh it off that students are living off toasties and beans is far from amusing, just as it wouldn't be amusing if it was a small family undergoing the same situation. Realistically we're being made to live off very little, charged extortionate amounts for fees and it's shrugged off with "Oh well, you're just a student".
If you are going to work AND go to university, just make sure you work just enough in order to make things affordable, don't get used to the money and prioritize work over studying. Most part-time jobs in student-orientated areas understand that university comes first and they understand that they need to be flexible with students - so if you need to, definitely do! Just be sensible and only stretch yourself as far as you can.


Just Write About It.

- Raven Twigg



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