Balancing schoolwork, extracurricular activities and a job can be quite the juggling act – but many students at Gannon are willing to take on the challenge. College is a time of making new friends, learning new things and ultimately preparing for the future. One way students experience the responsibilities of the future is by holding jobs during the school year.
At Gannon, students have several options about the type of work they can pursue. One option for students is to find a job through Gannon’s Work Study Program. This program, which is coordinated by the Financial Aid office, offers nearly 400 on-campus jobs to students. (Note: eligibility to participate in this program depends on the student’s need as determined by the FAFSA application, as well as criteria set up by the Financial Aid office.)
According to Chris Sukitsch, an adviser in the Financial Aid office, students are allowed to work 10 hours per week with a minimum wage salary of $7.25 per hour. This means that during the school year, students can earn up to $2,175 before taxes.
The Work Study Program gives students a variety of jobs to choose from. For example, interested students can hold jobs as clerical assistants in various campus offices, laboratory assistants, grounds crew assistants, tutors and front desk employees in campus buildings.
Sukitsch said that the program is a great way for students to earn money to help pay for various expenses, but that it is important for students to have the ability to balance their job with their schoolwork.
“Parents and students often question the wisdom of a student working while in college,” she said. “Experience indicates, however, that the discipline required for a job often carries over into a student’s study habits.”
Sukitsch said that students who hold part-time jobs with a modest number of hours during college often show better academic performance than those who do not. This is because they are taking on more responsibilities and learning to manage them efficiently.
Students who have participated in the Work Study Program generally agree with these findings.
“It teaches you to balance your time, and it teaches responsibility with how you determine what is important,” said Kristen Andrews, a senior sport and exercise science major who does clerical work in the New Student Services office at Gannon.
Andrews advised that students should find a job with a supportive employer – and she said most work study supervisors at Gannon are just that.
“Make sure that [your employer] is flexible and that it’s not a stressful job,” she said. “You have enough stress already with school.”
Andrews’ coworker, sophomore social work major Caiti Priestap, agreed. “You don’t want to get stuck with an employer that doesn’t care about your schooling,” she said. “That’s the reason you are here.”
Gannon’s Work Study Program is specifically designed so that students have the opportunity to work for supervisors who recognize the value of combining work with study.
When students choose to work during college, they often do so because they need the money either to help pay for tuition and books or to help pay for several other out-of-pocket expenses.
Another way students can earn this money is to hold an off-campus job which they have arranged themselves.
Emily Livingston, a senior history major who works as a waitress at Perkins Restaurant, said that having a job is a nice source of income.
“I’m trying to save money for the expenses that come after college,” she said.
Livingston, who does not participate in the Work Study Program but elected to find her own job in the Erie community, works roughly 15 to 20 hours each week, mostly on the weekends. She said that it can be difficult to balance a job while in school, but that she has learned from it.
“Having a job makes me manage my time more efficiently,” she said. “I know I work on the weekend, so I need to get my work done during the week.”
Likewise, senior philosophy major Michael Rodgers, who works as a waiter at Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant, also said that working off-campus can be a challenge, but he said that it is certainly worth it to learn skills that will help him in his future career.
“If you have to work to make money during college, it’s worth it because you learn how to deal with people,” he said, “As a waiter, I talk to people constantly and if they aren’t having a good day, I have to try to change that.”
Rodgers and his peers have learned to find the delicate balance of spending time on schoolwork, responsibly holding a job and making time to participate in extracurricular activities.
It certainly appears that Gannon students are becoming quite the responsible jugglers.