Is the Payout Really Worth the Stress?


By Hayley Luster, Contributing Writer

Pictures by Hayley Luster

For many students, it can be very laborious trying to balance school work and having a job while also maintaining a somewhat active social life. To a college student, money can be crucial because not a whole lot can be done without it; therefore, many students must find a job in order to remain financially stable. As a student who is looking for a job, I wanted to find out how students are able to keep up on all of their school work, hold a steady job, and still be able to spend time with their friends or have free time. I went around campus and found a variety of students who have work-study jobs and/or off-campus jobs. How do they do it? How do they find enough time during the day?

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Work-study jobs are very common on campus

Alyssa Coats is a sophomore music education major with two work-study jobs. Her major is considered to be one of, if not the most, stressful majors on campus and she even said, “I practically live in the Hett because of my major.” With all the stress that comes with it, she is still able to balance a job working at the Lair, where she cleans, uncovers the pool tables, sets up the ping pong table, and monitors the people that come in. She does all this along with her student worker job for Dr. Franklin, where she works as the recruitment coordinator, sending out letters to prospective students, organizing football games for the marching band, and much more. She considers herself to be extremely stressed and said, “I don’t even know what a nonstressful life looks like.” She tries to only work on weekends because of how busy her weekdays are from schoolwork. She typically stays up until 12 am working on homework because it is the only available period of the day that she has.

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Another Bearcat at work

Along with Alyssa, Julian Castillo is a freshman music education major. Even though they are both MuEd majors and both have work-study jobs, their levels of stress and availability are much different. Julian works as a cook for 1828 and only works 2 days that total anywhere from 5 to 10 hours a week. Since he has a fairly small work schedule, he is able to make enough time to study and do homework. He gets about 6 hours of study/homework time each day and is able to maintain decent grades because of how flexible his work schedule is.

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Some students also work off-campus

Having an on-campus job can be a lot easier since it’s much more accessible, but a lot of students find that work-study jobs do not provide a sufficient income, so they get off-campus jobs. Marlen Mendez is a sophomore biopsychology major who works at Forever 21 in Fairview Heights. At her job, Marlen works the register and maintains fitting rooms. She works on average, 10 hours a week over about 2 days. Along with having her job and studying, Marlen says that she is very stressed and overwhelmed, finding it difficult to keep up with everything she is involved in outside of school and work. Marlen said that she wishes it were possible to have money without having a job because of how hard it is to balance both equally. She also said that she believes “after you’re out of college, you just focus on work, but in college, you have to focus on both which is crazily stressful and causes so many headaches.”

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Bri works at Pizza Hut

Marlen is not the only one who finds it difficult to balance everything on her plate. Sophomore Bri Caraker finds having a job at Pizza Hut, keeping good grades, and still spending enough time with her boyfriend to be one of the most difficult things she has ever done. When asked about how stressed she is, Bri said, “imagine the stress of trying to juggle a shark, a porcupine, and a chainsaw with the coordination of a headless chicken; that’s me.” She gets an average of 3 hours of studying per day, which she says is not enough time because of how much reading she has and the writing-intensive courses she is enrolled in.

To add variety to the pool of students I interviewed, I found a 5th-year student, Hunter Barnett, who is currently working at Cobblestone in Lebanon. Hunter says that this year is “crunch time” for him and that he is trying to make sure that he has everything in order so that he can graduate at the end of this current semester. He currently works Sundays from early evening to around 1 am, which often leaves him feeling very tired on Mondays. Hunter’s work schedule is far from extensive, but working so late on Sunday nights causes him to be tired for pretty much the entire week because he is unable to maintain a sleep schedule that is ideal for him. If it were up to Hunter, he would gladly go to bed at 9 pm every night.

From these interviews, I was able to learn that the majority of students find it very difficult to have a job, keep relatively good grades, and have a social life. From having two jobs to dealing with the stress from extremely intense majors to being a social butterfly, college students rack up crazy amounts of stress and unless they are able to develop a perfectly balanced and equal day-to-day schedule, the hectic chaos of stress is ultimately inevitable.