I’m a working class student, but at least I’ll be prepared after graduation

(published in CM Life‘s Sept. 2, 2009 edition)

They call it working for the weekend, but what happens when you work the weekends, too?

Then what are you working for — time to go to class or time for sleep?

I have been employed in some way or another since I turned 16 and, recently, I had the revelation that I am missing out on the “real” college experience by working to offset the rising tuition instead of getting to attend events on campus.

Entering my second and hopefully final college football season as a fan, I don’t foresee myself being able to attend any of the tailgating extravaganzas.

Other events on campus, such as the recent appearance by comedian Bo Burnham or the upcoming visit from Sean Astin, won’t include me in the crowd. The annual Fire Up Fest on Sept. 17? You guessed it, I most likely won’t be there.

Disheartening, for sure.

However, it will be worth it.

This responsibility of being employed, managing time between work and school, having an income with finances to manage and monthly bills to pay will make me more prepared once graduation arrives.

Mom and Dad are not looking over my shoulder anymore. To a point, I’m already there. But, if need be, I know my parents are only a phone call away.

The value of learning these responsibilities now outweigh learning them after graduation.

Delaying this process will only create more of a shock once school is over and students are out on their own with careers, mortgages and car payments.

Students today without jobs are not building those lifelong skills necessary to survive when their parents are not around to spoon-feed them everything.

Need some extra beer money? Ask Dad. Want some money to go to a movie this weekend with your love interest? Ask Mom. It seems students these days are handed everything they ever want by their parents.

I know of a few people who have never worked a day in their lives. When they graduate in May and find jobs, will they have any idea what to do without their parents telling them what to do?

Doubtful.

From the other side of the glass, spending all of our time while working in college deprives us of experiencing the “best four years of our lives.” Is it necessary to spend this time working when we do not have to? Why put ourselves through the unnecessary stress of work in addition to academic stress?

I work for the extra beer money. I work to be able to go out to a movie on the weekend. I work so I am not completely dependent on my parents to give me the things I want.

I am creating my own college experience, even if it includes working to pay the bills.

At least I can say I’m prepared once I graduate.

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