Gatepost Survey finds students struggle balancing work and school

By Allison Wharton

Asst. Arts & Features Editor

Richard Tranfaglia

Staff Writer

Kate Shane

Staff Writer

Twenty six percent of FSU students work over 20 hours a week during the school year, according to an unscientific survey conducted by The Gatepost.

The survey was administered to 400 students from Sept. 29 to Oct. 7, 2016.

The survey found 46, or 11 percent, of the survey respondents work 25 hours a week or less. Twenty-nine respondents, or 7 percent, work 30 hours a week or less. Fourteen respondents, or 3 percent, work 35 hours a week or less. Seventeen, or 4 percent, work 40 hours a week or less and three survey participants, or 1 percent, work over 40 hours a week.

Sixty-five respondents, or 16 percent, work 20 hours a week or less. Fifty-one participants, or 13 percent, work 10 hours a week or less and 51 respondents, or 13 percent, 15 hours a week or less.

Eighty-one respondents, or 20 percent, do not work during the school year. Thirty participants, or 7 percent, work five hours a week or less.

Thirteen participants,  or three percent, did not answer.

President F. Javier Cevallos said he is concerned about students working more than 20 hours a week.

“It is very hard to maintain a full academic load and work so many hours,” he said. “The majority of our students work, and I believe it is a positive experience as it is an investment in the future. But it is crucial to find the right balance of work, study and leisure time.”

Melinda Stoops, dean of students, said the more hours a student works, the closer they are to a “tipping point” of stress due to the lack of personal time.

She added, “It comes down to choices. When you look at sacrifices, I think it might mean they don’t have as broad a range of activities as people who don’t work as many hours.”

SGA president and senior Ezequiel De Leon said, “I imagine that working large numbers of hours must certainly negatively affect students’ schoolwork, as well as their social experiences.”

He added that work “shouldn’t be such a burden that it inhibits student achievement and development.”

According to a U.S. census report conducted in 2011, 72 percent of undergraduates work. Twenty percent of the students work full-time, or 40 hours per week. Fifty-two percent of the students work less than 40 hours per week and 26 percent work 20 hours or more. The report also said college professors suggest students should work between 10 to 15 hours.

Many students said it is hard to balance their work hours with their school commitments.

Senior Ryan Toomey said he is an SDA who works nine hours a week.

“It’s still difficult to balance the heavy load,” he said.

Junior April Navarro said “it is hard making time for homework” since she is a server who works nights.

Hailey Smith, a sophomore, works at the school Starbucks four days a week. She said, “I end up staying up really late and I don’t get a lot of school work done.”

Sophomore Nada Shaaban, who works as an apprentice for Company 1 Theater, struggles with whether to “focus more on work or school.”

She added, “I don’t know where to put all my energy.”   

Paul Welch, director of counseling services, said the effects of long-term stress that can arise from trying to balance work and school include poor sleep, inadequate nutrition and no exercise opportunities.

“Those effects should be signs to self-evaluate your priorities,” he said.

Students need to “find a balance” when it comes to work and school, said Welch.

Junior Kelly Barden said, “It’s hard to manage time for both school and work. Work expects you to work whenever you aren’t in class, but you also need to find time for homework, as well as time for yourself. By the end of the day, I’m drained from work and school, and do not want to do more work.”

Senior Tori Clark said, “It’s hard, because some professors want me to focus solely on their class and don’t realize work is what’s allowing me to come to school.”

Joe Botteri, a freshman, said, “I work because I like having money. It allows me to go out with my friends and do activities that get my mind off school when I’m stressed.”

Sociology professor Virginia Rutter said, “There’s no such thing anymore as a traditional college student. When people say traditional college student, they tend to talk about somebody that has a lot of freedom, between the ages of 17 and 23, to discover themselves.”

Rutter said students not only work to pay for educational expenses, but life expenses as well.

“In my experience with my students, it’s not just they are trying to take care of themselves and meet their personal needs, but I have a lot of students who are meeting the needs of their families,” she said.

While some students and faculty focus on the stress of working while attending classes full-time, some believe there are benefits to having a job.

Food and nutrition professor Susan Massad, who has taught consumer economics, said a part-time job can be “good” for college students because it teaches them how to “organize” and “balance.”

She added, “It gives them work experience and an appreciation for being in college because they are working to help pay for it.”

Sam Patjane, a junior, said, “Working while being at school can be challenging, but it helps me discipline myself to balance school and my job.”

Junior Andrew Robinson said, “It’s a good experience to work and go to school because you learn how to manage your time effectively.” 

Some students said they have learned from past experiences and cut back on work even though they might not earn the desired amount of money.

Junior Kaylee Willard said, “Last year, I worked three days a week. All my free time devoted to homework was pushed back. … I only work Saturdays now.”

Jay Wenzel, a freshman, works in landscaping solely on the weekends. “It’s a tiring job, so if I picked up more hours during the week my school work would be affected.”

Freshman Jillian Kokernak said, “I work as a food runner at a restaurant over the weekend in my hometown. It separates work and school.”

Junior Christine Connolly said, “I had to find a happy medium balancing my social life, school work and work. Working on the weekend while going to school during the week isn’t bringing as much money as I would like, but … I’m a much happier person since I’m not stressing over an over packed work or school schedule anymore.”

Rutter said there are many students who have more “complicated demands” related to the “uncertainty in the economy.”

She added this an economic issue that “goes beyond economics.

“It not just about the numbers, it’s also about the way we live and the pressures we put on our college students.”

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