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Pay Your Way Through School

Thousands of college kids per year prove that paying for school is possible, regardless of their financial situation. For example, some parents can help pay for school, some cannot, and others won’t. For freshmen who don’t get help from mom and dad, the thought of student loans is overwhelming. But working in school, will reduce the need to take out loans, and build your resume. Working or interning in school will build your strengths, and develop your weaknesses to make you a better candidate for the workforce.

If you are looking for more ways to avoid debit along with working through school consider these options:

College Choice: Consider the cost of tuition. Unless you have a full-ride, starting at your local community college is the cheapest option. Private colleges cost up to $800 per credit hour, and community college costs as little as $60 per credit hour. Therefore, if money is your main concern, community college is the best option. College is what you make of it. Students who go to community college for 2 years then transfer to a 4-year college/university are just as successful as students who go to private colleges/universities.

Living at Home: If you are serious about avoiding debt, live at home. Living at home is the most economical way to get an education. If you want to go out-of-state, prioritize your goals. Which is most important – saving money or going to your dream school? Think about the life you want post-graduation to help make that decision. Remember, if you take school seriously, it does not matter where you go. Therefore, if you can tolerate living at home, you will save the most money of your peers.

If you plan on working in school consider scheduling alternatives:

Online classes: These are a great alternative because you can organize your classes around your work schedule. Online courses are better for some subjects than others. If you struggle in a particular subject, do not take that class online. Language classes are the most difficult online classes. Look for classes where you already have background in the subject area.

Night classes: Night classes meet once or twice per week and are a good option for students who work during the day. Taking a full load of night classes frees up 5 days per week to work. Most students prefer night classes to day classes anyway.

Once-a-week classes: Classes that meet once-a-week for 3-4 hours are a great alternative for students who plan their schedule around work. Classes that only meet once-a-week leave 4 days free for work. However, it is more difficult to keep up with these classes than classes that meet 2-3 times per week. Like night classes, pick once-a-week classes where you already have a background in the subject.

Maximizing the benefits of working during school: Not only does working in school give you an extra source of income, it also gives you an opportunity to build your resume. If you want a degree in marketing, or client-facing sales position after school, a part-time job in retail is a good idea. College jobs build important skills such as customer service, communication abilities, and leadership. These skills will make you stand out to employers after graduation.

Alumnus Voice:

"As a college student, it can be tough to make ends meet and succeed in classes. But you make it through, and once you graduate and get a job, life is much much less complicated. Organization was the key for me and outlining my priorities was equally important. I worked while earning a double major and was able to pay my bills in addition to gaining experience that helped me obtain the job that I am currently in."
-- Sarah B. University of Iowa, Iowa Business/ Finance Major

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Last Reviewed: January 2020