A 2015 Georgetown University study found that more than 70% of college students worked while attending school over the last 25 years. The percentage of working students increased throughout the last quarter century, except for the years during and after the recession of 2008.
The study, Learning While Earning: The New Normal, reported that students work an average of 30 hours each week and 25% are working full time. It also found that educational costs have increased to the point where even a full-time work schedule is generally not enough to cover the bills.
“Today, almost every college student works, but you can’t work your way through college anymore,” Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, said in a report for CNBC. “Even if you work, you have to take out loans and take on debt.”
Seven in 10 college graduates had student-loan debt in 2014 and the average amount owed was nearly $29,000, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. The Georgetown research found that while 14% of working learners had student debt of more than $50,000, 22% of nonworking students carried similar obligations.
The report also pointed out that working provides hands-on experience, even when the job isn’t related to a student’s major.
“Working while one is still in school enhances the ability to meet deadlines, work under pressure, and effectively structure time blocks,” said Wendy Patrick, business ethics lecturer at San Diego State University. “It instills a sense of discipline, responsibility, structure—all elements that contribute to a successful life.”