How Many Hours Should a College Student Work Each Week?

Brandi Glass
November 3, 20225 min read

College students juggle responsibilities that include studies, families, and careers. While many wait until they finish their degrees to start working, others don’t have that option. You’re not alone if you are a college student looking for a job. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 40% of undergraduate students have some form of employment in the US.

But not everyone can manage the pressure, and taking on too much can have the opposite effect of setting you back. So, how many hours should a college student work each week? We’ll cover the basics in this article.

Factors to Consider Before Applying

The decision to work while you’re in college stems from multiple factors. You may want to increase your skillset to have a strong resume once you graduate. Or, you may need the additional income to pay for supplies, books, and housing. Since some college students support their families, any extra income helps. However, you must evaluate how this employment can affect your performance before applying for a job. Below are a few factors to consider before you take the plunge.

Can I Realistically Juggle Studies and Employment?

This question concerns what you study and how much time you need to manage your grades. If you are in a rigorous program, you may not have sufficient time to handle a second responsibility. Moreover, if you already struggle with keeping up in class, employment may exacerbate your situation further.

On the other hand, some studies indicate that getting a job while studying may lead to a GPA boost. This performance increase comes from better time-management skills and self-discipline, a byproduct of taking on additional responsibility. Remember that every person is different. Make it a priority to sit down and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses before you start applying.

Should I Apply for Full-time or Part-time work?

If you are not taking too many courses, you can apply for full-time or part-time work. However, the latter is better because your course load may change between semesters. Getting a stable part-time job with set hours helps you manage your time more efficiently and keeps your stress levels down.

Some people take online courses and cram their studies and responsibilities until the last moment because they have too many obligations at work. You won’t perform well if you start stressing about your job and college work. Choosing a part-time job is the best short and long-term solution to prevent you from slipping behind.

Is the Job Going to Improve My Current Situation?

Some people have to work to continue studying or to support their families. But working is counterintuitive if you can’t keep up with your peers and are too tired to excel. Only you know whether starting a new job improves your current situation. It’s easy to assume that you can manage your responsibilities at once before you start. But when you can’t focus in class or be present at your place of work, it will lead to negative repercussions.

The good news is that many employers understand that college students also need to work. They can offer flexible schedules with reasonable hours that let you comfortably work and study. Even if it takes some time to find such an employer, it is a much better option than one that will cause issues when you need to leave and attend a class.

Will I End Up With More Expenses?

One of the things that college students miss when they apply for a job is that they may pay more over time. If your place of work is too far from your home or college, you may not have a lot left over after transportation expenses. Being a server, for example, may not yield as many tips as needed to cover your costs. It is not worth the time and risk if you don’t get a living wage that lets you navigate your time comfortably.

Consider all expenses before seeking a job to avoid paying more in the long run. Do not apply to just any job – consider factors such as transportation and a wage above minimum wage. If you have a child, placing them in a daycare center to work quickly burns your check and puts you back on square one. Proper planning prevents you from getting stuck in a situation with no long-term benefits.

Pros of Working While in College

Working as a student comes with multiple perks. Besides the income, you’ll have a chance to improve your skills, meet new people, and gain experience before taking on a permanent career after graduation. Some of the positive aspects include:

  • Enhancing your socialization and people skills
  • Improving your future earning potential and allowing you to start with a higher salary later
  • Reduce your college debt and expenses
  • Networking with people who may lead you to a more stable career
  • Gaining practical experience that you can use anywhere
  • Learning how to manage and juggle a budget
  • Acquiring skills that you can take to a permanent career
  • Learning time management and discipline
  • Building on our strengths and understanding your professional weaknesses

A job allows you to experience real-world professional situations while learning theory. This combination is potent and leads to positive results if you manage your responsibilities properly. Finally, having a job while you’re a student doesn’t have to be stressful. Depending on your career, it may be enjoyable and help you come out of your shell if you don’t have experience.

Possible Drawbacks to Working and Studying

Working and studying come with drawbacks, the most glaring being the inability to manage both. When students get stressed, they may make mistakes that lead to repercussions later. If you cannot keep up with your studies, you may need to take remediation courses. Moreover, you may face placement on probation for unsatisfactory improvement. Carefully evaluate your schedule and abilities before you start looking for a job.

How Many Hours Should a College Student Work Each Week?

Because “how many hours should a college student work each week” is a question on every student’s mind, experts are weighing in. According to research studies, the ideal number of hours a student should work each week is 13 – 20. Although 13 hours may not seem like a lot, it maintains a delicate balance between your varying course load and your life circumstances. Anything more than 20, and your grades take a hit.

When you work at least 40 hours a week, you do not have enough time to manage your studies and personal life. What this also means is that it’s not advisable to take on a full-time job. Burnout is a natural phenomenon that can cause a quick downward spiral. Everyone can suffer from it – and no one is immune to the effects of too much pressure.

Applying to a Job While in College

If you decide to work while in college, the next step is to start on your resume and apply to jobs. Since you may not have enough experience, your resume may not have enough information for a potential employer. Fortunately, with Rocket Resume, you can still have a customized resume that gives employers an idea of your skills and personality to land a good job.

Rocket Resume has intuitive resources, and a user-friendly process yields a resume in minutes. By answering a few questions and inputting your information, you can create a resume even without experience.

Are you ready to start applying for a job while studying in college? Start on your resume today with Rocket Resume.