Nobody is blind to the fact that college is crazy expensive. Besides the high tuition costs, students also have to pay housing, a meal plan, textbooks, class fees, technology fees, student activity fees…the list goes on and on. Then there’s the expenses that aren’t even directly associated with college: clothing, snacks, a cell phone, car insurance, etc. As the financial stress begins to build up, many students decide to have a job while in college to offset these expenses.
In high school, I was very much aware of these costs, so I always thought that I would be working as soon as I stepped onto campus. But as move-in day approached and the realities of college began to kick in, I was torn between having a job or taking a break to focus on school; there are many advantages and disadvantages of each. In the end, however, I decided to not have a job my first semester for several reasons:
College classes require much more dedication, focus, and coursework than there was in high school, meaning that you are going to be spending much more time outside of class doing assignments than you were in high school.
The increased amount of work associated with my classes is one reason why I waited to have a job in college; I had no idea how much to expect and how long it would take, especially since it can differ between classes and majors. Not having a job the first semester also gave me additional time to adjust to this change in workload, and it can do the same for you as well.
Not having a job your first semester also gives you the opportunity to develop study skills and time management skills to accommodate the increased amount of schoolwork. Once you develop these skills, you can then consider adding a job to the mix. Before that, however, it can be too overwhelming.
2) Student Activities
Most likely, your college campus boasts of having hundreds of student organizations, whether that be Greek Life, religious organizations, major-related associations, honor societies, or activities that are just there for fun! I’m not kidding when I say that one college I visited had a Paper-Rock-Scissors organization; another had a Battleship club where its members would row around the pool in canoes and pour water into other students’ canoes, trying to sink them.
By not having to worry about a job your first semester, you can use the additional free time to explore what activities your campus has to offer, try them out, and see if they are for you. For example, I was in a Fencing Club for part of my first semester. In the end, it wasn’t for me, but it was an awesome opportunity to try it out. By having the free time to try different activities, you can also make friends who have common interests.
Once you have figured out which activities you would like to be in, you will know what days and times they meet and can figure out how to fit them in with your work schedule later on.
3) Time For Friends And Family
It is important to make time for friends and family throughout college, and perhaps even more so in the first semester as you battle homesickness and adjust to your new environment. Depending on where you go to college, you might find yourself not knowing anybody else on campus, which makes it much more important to have the time go out and introduce yourself to people. Not having a job your first semester makes it easier to find the time to do this and make new friends. It may be hard at first, but you will thank yourself ten times over later.
4) Explore The Types of Jobs On Campus
As a high schooler, you could most likely only find a job in retail or food service. This all changes in college because there is a more diverse range of jobs (usually on-campus) that are available to college students. For example, students work in clerical positions, RA positions, in art/museum galleries, or as student tour guides. Not working in the first semester gives you the opportunity to look at what jobs are available, what is good and the bad about them, and ask for feedback from people who are have worked in that position before.
5) More Likely To Get A Job In Your Major Later On
Something you will constantly hear in college is the importance of getting job experience in your major. However, getting that job may be difficult, as some jobs will have “preferred qualifications” that will ask whether you have taken a certain class or not. However, this isn’t to say that you couldn’t have a different job in the earlier semesters and then switch to something related to your major later on, but some people may prefer to wait until then.
6) Adjustment To College
There are a lot of things to adjust to in college: the new environment and friends, different routines, increased schoolwork, more independence, and a whole lot more stress! With these changes happening all at once, it can easily become an overwhelming and difficult experience. It takes time to get used to, and not having a job in the first semester provides this necessary time. Without it, you may find yourself having a harder time adjusting, which can have negative impacts in several areas of your life. Not having a job your semester of college gives you one less thing to stress about, and can make the adjustment to college a lot easier and smoother that it would have been otherwise.
There are many benefits of not having a job the first semester of college, but I also want to emphasize that it isn’t the best thing for everyone. Having a job in your first semester can have its own set of benefits, and not just in the paycheck. While it was better for me to wait to get a job, I also realize that it is different for everyone, but these reasons are definitely something to consider if you’re still trying to make that decision.
However, I do want to know one thing: did you decide have a job your first semester of college? What was you experience like? Let me know about it in the comments down below!