Is It Better to Work On-Campus or Off-Campus?

Is it better to work part-time on-campus or off-campus? Each type of job has its advantages and disadvantages. What’s the best choice?

Advantages of On-Campus Jobs

  • Academic benefits and networking. Students who work on campus are more likely to persist in their academic studies. Through an on-campus, part-time job, students become better-acquainted with faculty, staff and other students and are more likely to feel like they are part of the campus community.
  • Location. An on-campus job usually allows the student to remain right on campus, instead of having to commute to the job. If a student lives on campus, this can be convenient as the work and classes are all in the same place. This reduces travel time and transportation costs.
  • Tuition assistance. Most on-campus jobs provide the student with cash compensation or some other sort of tuition assistance. This can reduce the need for student loan debt. If students receive scholarships, they may be able to use some of the money on other things such as books and supplies, personal/miscellaneous expenses, room and board and transportation costs.
  • Room and board. Some on-campus jobs provide free room and board. For example, students who work as a resident assistant in the dormitory or residence hall may have the cost of their dorm room covered and, perhaps, also a meal plan. Some colleges provide free room and board to the student body president and the editor of the student newspaper.
  • Personal satisfaction. Having a part-time job on-campus can be beneficial for students while attending college. Students may discover that in addition to having extra money to spend, they are more satisfied with their college experience and are more prepared for the future.

Disadvantages of On-Campus Jobs

  • Lower wages. In most cases, on-campus jobs do not pay as well as off-campus jobs. On-campus jobs pay at least the federal minimum wage, sometimes slightly more. Therefore, students are unlikely to select an on-campus job over an off-campus job because of the paycheck
  • Lack of options. When a student works on campus, there are only so many job opportunities. The different types of jobs are limited, as are the openings within those job types. Therefore, unless the student applies for a job at the right time, usually early in the academic term, options may be less available.

Advantages of Off-Campus Jobs

  • Higher wages. With many off-campus jobs, a student will be able to secure a higher hourly wage than an on-campus job. Most on-campus jobs have to stick to certain wage requirements and total compensation limits in order to meet the school’s budget. These restrictions are not always present when a student ventures off campus to find a job. Off-campus jobs could potentially pay two or three times as much as an on-campus job.
  • Variety. By going off campus, students can pick from a plethora of job options. In most college towns, there are many different businesses that are interested in hiring students. Therefore, regardless of what type of career the student would like to pursue, there is a good chance that he or she will be able to find a relevant job off campus.
  • Less restrictive rules. When a student works on campus, there is a good chance that the position is subject to some fairly strict rules. Students will have to be aware of campus rules at all times even when they are at work.

Disadvantages of Off-Campus Jobs

  • Time. If a student gets a job off campus, he or she will have to spend more time away from campus. The time spent traveling between campus and the off-campus job will take time away from studying.
  • Increased costs. Traveling to an off-campus job may require transportation. If the student needs a car, he or she will have to buy insurance, gas, a parking permit and worry about maintenance and repairs. Public transportation also adds costs, although some public transportation systems provide reduced fares to college students.

Tradeoffs between On-Campus and Off-Campus Jobs

Though working off campus is always an option, on-campus jobs provide students with two key advantages. First, transportation to and from work will never be an issue. Second, on-campus employers are far more accommodating regarding a student’s need to place school first in his or her life. Therefore, they are more likely to provide students with much-needed flexibility when term papers or exams pile up.

On the other hand, there is no limit placed on earnings from an off-campus part-time job. Therefore, the student can pick up even more hours should he or she want to do so.

Given the cost of a college education, students should want to maximize their college experience. Working part-time in one of the many on-campus or off-campus settings can help students get the most they can from their college years.

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