″My College Dream″ is a series of first-person essays by college students about their college and career aspirations, the serious money struggles they faced along the way and the real-world consequences that resulted from their circumstances — and their decisions.
Eight out of 10 college students work while they’re in school — and the number of hours they’re working is on the rise, according to Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis of data from the National Center on Education. Nearly half (45%) work at least 30 hours a week, and 25% work full-time while going to school full-time.
Crystal Cox, an English and journalism dual major at the University of Missouri, has worked 25 to 40 hours a week, depending on her course load, while going to school full-time. She says at least twice a week last semester she had to make a decision: Go to class or go to work? Because as she calculated her expenses, she realized that what she had already made from multiple jobs wasn’t enough to cover her expenses: rent, utilities, Wi-Fi, gas, groceries, etc. Now in her junior year, Crystal decided to work just 25 hours (she’s a barista at a local coffee shop) because she is taking more credits. The result: more loans.
In the first installment of CNBC’s My College Dream series, Crystal shares her story — and how she’s juggled going to college and working in order to pay for it.
In my first two years at college, I’ve had to make a decision that my high school self could not have imagined: Go to class, or go to work so I could afford food to eat. This is the reality that I, and many students who come from low-income families, face. Having to work 40 hours a week at an entry-level service job is difficult, but having to do so while being a full-time college student is beyond exhausting. Since being introduced to the economic concept of opportunity cost, I’ve thought a lot about how school and work are opposing variables in my life.