Warning: College Major-Related Jobs
This week I’m writing about a concern I have about a certain group of students. They are not an ethnic or religious group, or students who share a certain problem. They are a perfectly normal group, much like you and I, who develop a problem late in college that can make it difficult graduate. It’s not their fault, per se… I think it’s just something that happens. It IS, however, preventable.The problem is this: when students, usually late in college, get a job related to their post-college career plans. Too often, I see these jobs that started out as part-time, student employment morph into almost-full-time or full-time jobs and begin working against finishing college, instead of supporting it. The job slowly becomes a higher priority, and at the same time school becomes a lower priority.
Students often start missing classes because they had to work, they accept opportunities for more hours or responsibility, their grades may drop, and they become more “removed” from college – both literally and figuratively. I refer to this phenomenon as having one foot in college and one foot in the working world. I see students gravitating toward the working world at the expense of college. It’s easy to see how someone might do that, since the immediate rewards are financial and (seemingly) career-related, but I think the rewards are short-term and, frankly, mis-guided.
Obviously, this doesn’t happen to everyone who gets a major-related job late in college. I do, however, want to warn you to be careful and guard against this happening to you. Be careful with jobs where the employer is more concerned about the needs of their business than they are with yours. While that may seem like the way it should be, employing college students in a business carries a different level of responsibility for the employee’s needs than most forms of employment. The employer must value the student’s education and support the completion of the degree while meeting the needs of the business.
Often, the student is the only one concerned about their education, and thus, in conflict with the needs of their job. Then the student must choose whether they will handle a conflict like a professional and not let their “life” affect their job (which they are likely to be encouraged to do by what they are learning in their upper division coursework), or like a student and advocate for themselves and their education (which, in their view will likely make them seem less professional and immature – which, of course, isn’t how they want to be perceived).
Bottom line is students need to watch out for themselves and ensure their employer values their education and won’t ask them to make choices that are counter-productive to achieving their goals. And when faced with opportunities that conflict with school, have the intestinal fortitude to decline, knowing more, greater opportunities exist down the road because of having successfully completed the degree.
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