Get a Job
The highest-achieving college students have time to work – either at a paying job or unpaid internship – because their study skills allow them to carve out some time in the week to earn a little money, gain substantive pre-professional experience, or both. (Both is always best.)
However, underperforming students often aren’t doing well not because they’re less academically capable, but because circumstances force them to work too much at one thing and not enough at another. Think of the college student who works 20 hours a week on an unpredictable schedule at a fast food job to help pay for school.
The trick is to balance school with work. Students who don’t work are either spending too much time on school or simply haven’t realized the value that a job or internship will add to their lives, in the form of exposure to possible careers and the opportunity to find mentors.
College students should work 10 hours per week for pay and 10 hours per week at a career-related internship, with the ultimate goal being a 20-hour-per-week job that could lead to full-time employment upon graduation.
Free time is a college student’s worst enemy. Not being busy enough creates an illusion of invincibility that causes procrastination. Not realizing that life is mostly about work and not about school causes students tremendous shock – and forces them to move back in with their parents (!!!) – after their eventual college graduation.
The added responsibility of work forces students to improve their time management and study habits. The added reward of a job well done increases confidence and ability in a way that better prepares young people for the real, working world.