MILTON — As school starts back, many students have to face the effects of receiving an education, working full-time, and trying to balance the two.
A study by Georgetown University said that nearly 14 million Americans work while taking classes, which makes up about 70 to 80 percent of college students, and nearly 10 percent of the overall labor force.
That number of working students has gradually increased since the 1970s, and one-fifth of students work year-round, according to the study. Approximately 25 percent of those who work while attending school have both a full course-load and a full-time job.
Many students work full-time to be able to afford their education; however, even full-time work may not completely cover the cost of tuition and living expenses, according to the Georgetown study.
The study notes that if a student worked a full-time job at the federal minimum wage, they would earn just over $15,000 each year, which is not enough to pay for tuition at most colleges without a large amount of financial aid.
According to a study done by Brigham Young University, jobs are only harmful to a student’s GPA when the student works more than 20 hours per week; students who work fewer than 15-20 hours often report higher GPAs than those who do not work at all.
The National Center for Education Statistics found that students working 15 hours weekly have a significantly higher GPA than both students working 16 or more hours and students who don’t work at all.
According to the BYU study, 74 percent of student workers believed that employment forced them to become more efficient; however, 64 percent reported that employment also increased their level of stress. The study also found that full-time jobs may also cause the time to graduation to increase, due to the perception that students would need to reduce the number of credit hours they carry each term in order to make time for employment.
Locally, Santa Rosa County residents recall the effects employment has on their education.
Elaine Riley Prather of Milton said that she went to school 15 credit hours each semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays so she could substitute teach on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“I was a single mother with two small children, one being disabled at the time due to severe medical issues,” Prather said. “I did every school activity with both children. I switched off babysitting my two children to my neighbor’s six children to attend classes.
“When my car was in the shop, I put the youngest in the baby bike seat and rode my bike to school activities for my oldest child… I made the Dean's/President's list every semester.”
Miranda Kell of Milton said that she went to nursing school and worked full time all while she was pregnant.
“I had my son on Christmas break, three weeks early by C-section and never missed a day of school,” Kell said. “I had two weeks off for Christmas break. My oldest had started kindergarten the same day I started nursing school. I missed a lot of her school activities but it was well worth it.”