Student employment is an important focus of both the Student Affairs Strategic Plan and the Graduation Rate Improvement Plan (GRIP). Highlighted below are the results of a survey conducted by the University Career Center. Thank you to David A. Garcia and Audrey Magnuson for providing this information!
Does working during the first year of college impact the academic success of freshman students? A recent survey by the University Career Center and research by student affairs professionals suggests that, yes, there may be a strong relationship between work and the quality of first-year experiences of college students.
In April 2013, the University Career Center administered a survey to 4,258 students classified as “freshman” in RowdyJobs, the University Career Center job bank. Students were asked nine brief questions regarding student employment status, location of work, reasons for working, and perceived impact of work on performance in college. Approximately 174 students responded to the survey with 72% of respondents indicating they worked at some point during their freshman year, and 30% indicating they worked at least 30 or more hours per week.
Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of survey respondents who worked also stated that they worked off campus, even though 53.8% of all respondents suggested that they would prefer to work on campus. Of those students who worked during their freshman year, 55% also said they believe working hurts their academic success. As one student stated, “After getting off work, I don’t have the motivation or energy to concentrate even more and start studying or doing an assignment. If I do try to work on homework, I don’t put 100% into it.”
The research literature suggests that employment during college can be a positive experience, but only if done correctly. For example, students who work part-time on campus had significantly higher grades than students who did not work, students who worked off campus, or students working more than 20 hours per week (Pike, Kuh, & McKinley, 2009). On-campus employment can also foster stronger campus involvement and integration into college (Pascarella et al., 1994). Working can also help students develop the career skills identified by employers in the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2013 Survey, such as decision-making and teamwork skills. So while working off campus more than 20 hours a week can hinder academic performance, working on campus fewer than 20 hours can actually improve student academic outcomes in college.
With the current focus on student retention and graduation improvement at UTSA, as well as the latest research and student feedback in mind, the University Career Center is developing a University Internship Program to create additional employment opportunities on campus for undergraduate students. All Student Affairs offices could potentially help improve the academic outcomes of UTSA students by actively creating and ensuring meaningful student employment experiences. Information regarding the UTSA internship initiative will be provided during the coming months; and questions about the program may be directed to Audrey Magnuson, University Career Center Director.
For a complete copy of the survey presentation, click here. Questions regarding the survey may be directed to David A. Garcia, Career Counselor for freshman and undeclared students.
See you next month!
Director of Strategic Planning and Assessment
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
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Pascarella, E. T., Bohr, L., Nora, A., Desler, M., & Zusman, B. (1994). Impacts of on campus and off campus work on first year cognitive outcomes. Journal of College Student Development, 35, 364-370.