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Dr. Ruth's Guide to College Life - Excepts

Dr. Ruth Excerpts
Dorm Life 101
Morning Larks Versus Night Owls
Noise & Other Distractions
Alcohol & Cigarettes
Drug Use
Sexual Side of Drugs & Alcohol
Food Issues
Mixing of the Sexes
Dorm Alternatives
Work Life
Your Residential Advisor


Work Life

With college tuitions as high as they are, more and more students are working while they attend classes. A study done by the Department of Education found that half of the nation's college students worked an average of 25 hours a week, while another 30 percent worked full time. On most campuses, a third to half of the students work for the college itself while the rest work off campus. Students who are working 25 hours a week or more certainly have a much different lifestyle than those who don't have to hold down a job. While you can shift the times you study, and even get some choice as to when to schedule your classes, work hours tend to be less flexible. So a student who works might want to belong to this or that organization, but the combination of a class and work schedule may not allow for such extracurricular activities.

Q. I never pictured college as being such a stressful place. Not only do I have to worry about getting good grades, but I also have to worry about paying tuition. I work 30 to 35 hours a week, some for the college filing papers, and I also take orders at the local Burger King. Sometimes I feel like I'm caught in a vise. If you can come up with an answer, you're a miracle worker.

A. My suggestion to you is to slow this whole process down. My guess is that you're trying to fit all this into a traditional four-year program. Maybe that is too much. What would happen if you stretched it out a bit? For example, what if you stay home for a year, so your expenses are low, and work at a full-time job and then go back to school? You wouldn't graduate with your friends, but at least while you are in school, you wouldn't be so stressed out. Or what if you take fewer courses during the academic year and then take courses at a school near your home during the summer? You've got your whole life ahead of you. You don't have a wife and children to feed, so see if there is some way to spread out the load so that it is not so burdensome. Since I started my work experience in this country as a maid for $1 an hour while I was getting my master's at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, I sympathize with every college student who has to work while attending classes. It makes it especially tough when you see others around you who don't have to put in such long hours and can sleep or horse around while you are working. But what I want to tell you is that you must not allow the fact that you work to lessen your college experience.

You can find the time to do more than take classes as long as you don't give up without even trying. It's always better to have a schedule that's a little too full than one that's too empty. So don't be afraid to say yes now and then and join a club, or try out for a part in the school play or whatever, and then figure out a way to cram it all in.

Don't be afraid to let your professors know that you have a job. Most teachers have learned to turn a deaf ear to students with poor excuses for not doing their assignments on time, but that doesn't mean they aren't willing to make exceptions when they know the need is there. On the other hand, don't allow your friends to think you're never available because of your job. Make a point of putting aside time so that you can take part in at least some of their activities.

If you have a choice of jobs, don't let the pay rate be the only deciding factor. Obviously if one teaches you something of value, that should be your first choice. But if you can find a job where you can also crack open a book now and then, it might be better than a job that pays a little more but occupies your attention full time. See if you can find a job that will allow you to change your hours. If there are other people doing the exact same thing you are, it's more likely that you could trade, when needed, than if you are the only one responsible for those duties.

Continued Next

Dorm Life 101 | Morning Larks Versus Night Owls | Noise and Other Distractions | Alcohol and Cigarettes | Drug Use | The Sexual Side of Drugs and Alcohol | Food Issues | The mixing of the Sexes | Dorm Alternatives | Work Life | Your Residential Advisor


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Dr. Ruth's Guide to College Life




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