“Students from higher-income families tend to benefit as they work fewer hours in jobs directly related to their fields of study. Low-income working college students often work longer hours, and as a result, are less likely than their higher-income peers to get good grades and attain bachelor’s degrees or any credential at all,” said the report.
obs for college students: boon or bane?
There are stark differences between higher-income and lower-income students. The former are accessing the best jobs and work experience, including internships. According to the report, 14 percent of students from this group work in a lucrative field like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); business; or healthcare, compared to only six percent of their less financially fortunate peers.
On the other side of the income fence are low-income students working in food service,
sales and administrative support fields, putting them at a disadvantage as such work experiences do not provide the “deeper technical and general skills that foreshadow good career entry-level jobs”.
Low-income working students are found to be disproportionately Black and Latino, women, the first in their family to attend college and new arrivals to the US. They are also more likely to work full-time than their high-income peers.
As a result, they are “more vulnerable to experiencing declining grades when the average number of hours they work approaches or exceeds 40 hours per week,” said the report. As they are more likely to be enrolled in more narrowly focused fields of study at the sub-baccalaureate level, they are “less likely to gain the long-term adaptability that comes with the mix of general and specific education characteristic of the two-year or four-year degree”.