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Study finds students struggle to balance work, education

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Financial worries affect the academic performance of about one-third of all college students, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement.

Erin Wirth, program coordinator for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Money Management Center, said students who work a lot of hours often come into the center for advice.

“Of course working a lot of hours affects academic performance, but there are things you can do to adjust your financial situation,” Wirth said.

The center often finds that these students are not managing their money well, Wirth said.

“In my personal experience, those students are making mistakes with their money, and once they fix those mistakes they can reduce the hours they’re working,” she said.

Sophomore psychology major Chris Ganshert works two jobs and is enrolled in 12 credit hours at UNL.

“I could cut back hours and survive,” said Ganshert, who works 30 hours a week at The Mill Coffee and Tea and driving buses for UNL Parking & Transit. “But I’m working to pay rent, to pay for food and to save a little to pay off college loans later on.”

Next semester, Ganshert will no longer drive buses, which means he will lose 12 hours of pay each week.

“It’s money I know I’m going to miss,” he said.

Of students surveyed who work more than 20 hours a week, three-fifths reported that their jobs interfered with academics, according to a Nov. 14 article in The New York Times.

Ganshert said his jobs don’t affect his academic performance, but they have forced him to manage his time better.

“I’d say it has to do with the individual,” Ganshert said. “A well-motivated person could easily manage a job and study. It doesn’t have to be detrimental.”

Ganshert said working increases stress.

“If you’re in college and you only have one job or no job you’re going to be happier,” Ganshert said. “If you’re more focused on trying to get your homework done and trying to get to work on time, you get stressed.”

Wirth said students need to put their education before earning extra cash.

“Students need to understand that they are in school for a reason,” Wirth said. “They are in college to learn the skills they need to get a full-time job after college. They need to be working just as much as they need in order to have enough time to actually study.”

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