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Available research supports this recommendation.
Quantitative studies consistently show that retention rates are higher for students who work a modest number of hours per week ten to fifteen than they are for students who do not work at all or those who work more than fifteen hours per week.
Research also shows increased academic success for students working on rather than off campus. Unfortunately, this simple recommendation is no longer feasible or realistic for the typical undergraduate. Most college students are now not only employed but also working a substantial number of hours, a fact not widely understood or discussed by faculty members and policy makers.
About 80 percent of traditional-age undergraduates attending college part time worked while enrolled.
See figures 1 and 2. The share of full-time, traditional-age undergraduates working fewer than twenty hours per week has declined during the past decade to about 15 percent inwhile the number working between twenty and thirty-four hours per week has increased to about 21 percent in Today nearly one in ten 8 percent full-time, traditional-age undergraduates is employed at least thirty-five hours per week.
Contrary to the common belief that community college students are more likely to be employed than students at four-year institutions, the distribution of undergraduates by the number of hours worked is similar at public two-year, public four-year, and private four-year institutions, after controlling for differences in attendance status.
Working is now a fundamental responsibility for many undergraduates.
Many students must work to pay the costs of attending college. Some traditional-age students may use employment as a way to explore career options or earn spending money.
For other students, particularly adult students, work is a part of their identity, as Carol Kasworm, a professor of adult education at North Carolina State University, and other contributors to Understanding the Working College Student point out.
Regardless of the reason for working, trying to meet the multiple and sometimes conflicting simultaneous demands of the roles of student, employee, parent, and so on often creates high levels of stress and anxiety, making it less likely that students will complete their degrees.
Reconceptualizing Work Although students who work have an obligation to fulfill their academic responsibilities, colleges and universities also have a responsibility to ensure that all students—including those who work—can be successful. Colleges and universities can also reduce the prevalence and intensity of employment through financial aid counseling that informs students of both the consequences of working and alternative mechanisms of paying for college.
Qualitative data indicate that this time trade-off is real for many working students. But what if working were considered not as detracting from education but as promoting student learning?
One potential strategy is to develop connections between employment and learning by incorporating into coursework the knowledge gained through work-based experiences. Another strategy is to recognize formally the contribution of workplace experiences to student learning by awarding course credit for relevant employment experiences.
Supporting Working Students Colleges and universities can also create a supportive campus culture for working students. To do so, faculty members and administrators must understand the learning and support needs of working students. Creating an institutional culture that promotes the success of working students will require a campuswide effort that involves the faculty and administration.
Colleges and universities should encourage, reward, and support faculty members who adapt their instructional practices to promote the educational success of working students. In Understanding the Working College Student, Paul Umbach, associate professor of higher education at North Carolina State University, and his co-authors demonstrate the educational benefits to working students when their instructors encourage cooperative learning, set high expectations for student achievement, and create assignments that require students to demonstrate deep learning.
A campus teaching center may also support faculty efforts to help working students. Giving students the opportunity for meaningful one-on-one interactions with their professors is also critical to fostering a supportive campus culture, and such interactions may be particularly beneficial to working students.
Mary Ziskin, Vasti Torres, Don Hossler, and Jacob Gross, researchers with the Project on Academic Success at Indiana University, use qualitative analyses to identify examples where instructors do not offer necessary assistance, either because they do not realize the challenges facing working students or because they do not believe they are obligated to offer any additional assistance.
This problem can be remedied. Colleges and universities should also consider other ways to adapt the delivery of instruction as well as academic and social support services to the needs of working students.
Fostering Student Success The research collected in Understanding the Working College Student provides numerous suggestions for how to help working students succeed in college.
These include offering courses in the evenings, on weekends, and in distance education formats; establishing course schedules in advance; offering students access to academic advising and other support services at night and on weekends; offering online course registration and academic advising; providing child-care options; and providing space for students to study between work and school.
Colleges and universities can also help working students connect their employment and educational experiences through career counseling and occupational placement. Many undergraduate students struggle to meet the multiple demands of work, family, and school roles. Colleges and universities have an obligation to ensure that all students—including working students—can succeed on their campuses.
Reframing work as potentially enhancing student learning and ensuring that prevailing institutional policies, practices, and structures recognize that most undergraduates will have jobs while enrolled are important steps in the right direction. Perna is professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Academe advisory board.
Her scholarship examines how public and institutional policies enable and restrict college access and success, especially for students from historically underrepresented groups. Her e-mail address is lperna gse.Ethical Integrity While Writing a Dissertation - Executing the actual research of a dissertation is a process that can pose many ethical violations such as fabricating data, falsifying data, or .
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JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources. I also want to recommend you take a look at our Essays that Worked: real essays submitted by real students who have since matriculated at Connecticut College.
These essays are terrific, and you can find them listed on the right side of . Ashten Banister is an actor, singer, dancer, choreographer and writer. She graduated from Rider University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater and recently received a certificate of completion from The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in England for an Acting for the Camera Short Course.