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Dave Says: Working vs. Learning

Dave Ramsey - June 19, 2012

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Should my son work during his first year of college, or focus on his education?

Dear Dave,

My son is a freshman in college. Do you think he should work during his first year in school or focus all his attention on his classes?

Ben

Dear Ben,

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either direction during their first year of college. But as a parent, I’d urge you not to fall into the trap of thinking that a kid’s grades will go down if they work while in school. Research shows that kids who work while in college carry higher grade point averages than those who don’t.

To me, the reason for this is pretty simple. If you’re working and going to school at the same time, you have to learn how to manage your life and your time effectively. Lots of kids could pay their way through college, and not have to worry with student loans, if they just used the time they spend on social activities and watching television at a job.

I never required my kids to work during the school year. But they all have good work ethics, and they’re definitely not bums. During the summer, though, there was no such thing as sitting around. They had jobs. My youngest just finished his sophomore year, and he’s already started a job. Being a vegetable for the entire summer is useless, and we don’t do useless in our family.

But the philosophy of not wanting a kid to work so they can spend all their time studying is misguided. For the most part, kids who work while they’re in school will make better grades and develop into more mature and well-rounded individuals. And besides, if they’re working they can’t waste all their time playing beer pong!

—Dave

For more financial help, please visit daveramsey.com.

Comments 2 comments

shaunzie said...

04:50 PM
on Jun 19, 2012

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I totally agree with this! I'm a college student right now and I've seen both sides of the argument. When I didn't have a job, I was lazy and didn't get anything done. I had lots of time to study, but instead I watched movies and slept in. This year, I have 2 part time jobs and they have both helped me pay off bills as well as keep a regular schedule. I might not have a lot of free time to hang out or have fun, but my grades are better than they've ever been and I feel a lot more focused than I used to be.

bridget said...

11:26 AM
on Jun 26, 2012

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Kids who goof off in college because they aren't working ought to learn responsibility. My dad told me to work during college if I found a decent job, but to focus on my grades first. (I was attending the university on an academic scholarship.) Well, I took the only job available, which was janitorial in nature, although I had experience as a secretary and as a data processor. That job didn't pay well and didn't last long. So every summer I worked to pay for my education. Because competition for college jobs was stiff, I spent the school year studying and my summers working. I paid for my college education and had no debts. I also graduated with good grades. My opinion is if your kid is a good student, then the kid should make his or her own decision on whether to work during the school year while actually attending classes. If your kid is a bad student, though, let the kid learn to pay his or her own way. Too many kids waste their parents' money. It's often a different story when it's their own money they're wasting.
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