By KAITLIN SWANTON
Everything revolves around money. From the tuition payments that will be made with hard-earned savings, loans, grants, and scholarships, to the dollar and seventy-five cent transaction made at the laundry units in the residence halls, money is an inescapable necessity of life, especially college life.
As college students, we often joke that we’re “broke college kids” who can barely afford ramen, and there’s some truth to that. Estimated by College Board in the academic year 2017-2018, the average cost of living per college student was $9,970 for tuition and fees and $10,800 for room and board, totaling at $20,770 per year for in-state students at public four-year institutions. For out-of-state students attending public four-year universities, the cost is higher: $25,620 for tuition and fees and with the same room and board rate as in-state students, totaling in at $35,420 per year.
For comparison, the undergraduate tuition and fees for full-time students at Mary Washington is $6,327 per semester for in-state students and $14,294 per semester for out-of-state students. Room and board costs vary with places of residence and room rate.
With all of this money going into higher education, it is a good question to ask how much money is going to all of the other things that supplement college life. Think about it: how many electronic devices will need to be bought, what is the cost of textbooks, what necessities are there for a dorm or apartment, what is the price for a parking permit and what sorts of foods and utility items will need to be purchased? Of course, there are plenty more things not listed that students invest in, such as excursions with friends and insignia clothing, and this cost can vary with lifestyle.
The question is, how exactly can a student survive in the world of tuition and laptop replacements? Surely, wire transfers of money from parent to student can ease the situation, as can saving money months, even years, before a new college semester begins, but is there a better way to pay for day-to-day college life? The answer lies in on-campus student employment.
About 650 UMW students receive the added benefit of working on campus, and seven percent of those students qualify for the federal work study program, according to the Office of Financial Aid’s website. While you might be able to work in retail or restaurants, those off-campus jobs won’t be able to offer you financial help besides a paycheck.
Though this added income cannot be expected to pay for the cost of tuition and board in full, it is no less a powerful form of financial help: with income comes savings, and savings can mean the difference between purchasing textbooks and going without them.
Imagine the stability of having a predictable paycheck as opposed to nothing. Not only would you be able to support yourself without relying on wire transfers and your saved funds, but you could do more: you can get groceries when you need them, splurge on coveted items, save the money to put toward needed electronic devices and textbooks, save enough over an extended period of time to pay part or all of your bill for a college semester and plenty more.
Supposing that a student would keep an on-campus job for over a year, it would be a fantastic thing to add to your resume: not only does it show job commitment if you keep working for an extensive period of time, it shows responsibility during your college career, the kind of responsibility future employers will look for.
To be frank, on-campus employment during college semesters helps students more often than it hurts, especially in comparison to off-campus jobs. Campus jobs take your class schedule into consideration and are able to work around it. They are not designed so that you will stay up late worrying about tasks that need to be done but instead are often shaped considering your availability and workload. Campus jobs surely are not classes, but they are commitments, and with the proper work ethic and motivation, they can mean a world of difference in your life at college.
Sydney Poole, a sociology major who will graduate in 2022, works at the UMW Bookstore, Build-A-Bear Workshop and just recently was hired by Rue21.
“[Working multiple jobs] can be stressful at times when I have to work two jobs on one day but that is mainly because I do not have a car right now, so I rely on the Fred Bus and Lyft to get places [sic],” Poole explained.
This is not a unique experience for students like Poole who work off-campus. The distance can create transportation problems, and without a vehicle, working students will be forced to become creative with their methods of travel, ranging from carpools to buses to Lyft or Uber services and more. As opposed to an off-campus job, on-campus jobs are generally more accessible transportation wise, and most workplaces are within a walking distance.
Poole also said that with her tight schedule, it exhausts her. “When you combine school and my jobs, I have no days off. I still have quite a bit of free time, but I never get to sleep in anymore. Time-wise, the bookstore job is less time-consuming because it doesn’t take me an hour to get to work because of the bus; I just walk there.”
Aside from the stresses of her busy schedule with on and off-campus jobs, Poole does still enjoy her position with Build-A-Bear, though it comes at the hefty cost of her public transportation. However, if she had to choose which job was better for her academic life, Poole said it’s “definitely the bookstore.”
“They [the bookstore managers] understand that I am a student first; not that my other job [Build-A-Bear] doesn’t understand because they do, but I could see some off-campus jobs not caring,” she explained.
And with the costs of higher education, the difficulty in finding transportation to off-campus jobs, the flexible schedules and numerous other benefits of an on-campus job, it’s no surprise that they are a valuable asset to the everyday life of an Eagle.