It's not easy to pull off good grades while earning bucks on the side. And as the cost of education increases, the money college kids earn simply doesn't go as far.

The conversation around mounting college costs—and the subsequent loans and debt that drown recent graduates—often revolves around how to repay tens of thousands of dollars or considering the possibility of skipping costly higher education altogether.

But what’s sometimes left out of the chatter is the option of working through school to defray the costs. And the reason WHY is obvious from a story in The New York Times this weekend: it’s not easy to pull off good grades while earning bucks on the side. Plus, as the cost of education increases, the money college kids can earn simply doesn’t go as far toward covering tuition and living expenses.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

While many students are trying to defray some of the costs, few can actually work their way through college in a normal amount of time without debt and little or no need-based financial aid unless they have an unusual combination of bravery, luck and discipline.

“I literally never went out,” Mr. Tolmie says. “There just was not time to do that.”

The story also takes on a lawmaker who seems out of touch with exactly how much a college degree costs these days:

Others recall working their way through college themselves, including Representative Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina who heads a House subcommittee on higher education and work force training. “I spent seven years getting my undergraduate degree and didn’t borrow a dime of money,” she once said at a subcommittee meeting, adding that she was bewildered, given her own experience, by tales of woe she had heard from people with $80,000 in debt.

Here’s the full article if you want to read more.

What do YOU think? Is it possible to focus on school AND a job? What are some good ways for college kids to make money? Have you tried to hold down a decent-paying position while still maintaining your grades?

Let us know in the comments!


  1. Stephanie Gordon

    I worked throughout college and I had plenty of time to enjoy myself, partake in on-campus activities, sporting events and doing the “typical” college stuff. My parents did help me some but at any given time I had two or three part time jobs, 12-15 credit hours, worked in several labs and had an internship while maintaining excellent grades.

    Was I busy? Yes. Was it doable? Absolutely. It’s mindset. For me I was grateful to have the structure because it forced me to actually do my work and not leave everything until the last minute. Everyone is different but I think there is a lot to be said for forced schedule structure and contributing financially to your own education.

    I’d say for college kids the best bet is part time jobs with in-town employers who understand and work around college kids’ schedules.

  2. Alison Elissa Coaching

    Interesting. My reaction is a bit outside of the debate of whether working during college will impact grades. I think it’s a good idea to work in college to get a sense of different jobs and work environments.

  3. Fiona Andrews

    I took 27 credits each semester and worked at least 10 hours each week. I also held three executive board positions in my sorority and found more than enough time to hang with my friends and go to the gym every single day, even considering I needed to practice my instruments for at least three-four hours each day.

    I ended up graduating a year early with two degrees and two minors, magna cum laude. So yeah, as long as you are organised and sensible, it’s 100% feasible. In fact, I recommend it. Less stress about money, less reliance upon family, and more opportunities to meet people and experience new things.

  4. Christina Ball

    all depends on other costs as well, not every student can rely on their family. Some of us have to pay for everything in our life and can’t take out big loans because we don’t have a long credit history. Some students are lucky to have another investing in their education. but some of us have extra responsibilities at home and at work and have others relying on us. It’s easier to concentrate on just yourself, but some of us can’t do that because we grew up too quickly and had to save up money just to get in the door. Grades and time management are only have of it.

    • Halka Jean

      YOU. ARE. AMAZING. <3

    • Christina Ball

      I just speaking up, because some people take others for granted and some of my fellow students are doing incredible things with so much on their plate. I only had one parent and really want an education. I’m not so concerned with hanging out, I want to learn.

    • Christina Ball

      @[100000145397981:2048:Halka Jean] You’re amazing too! You work so hard and have gone so far! muah!

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