A Hard Study: Working to Make Ends Meet

Angela Amador doesn’t want a pity party; she just wants to pay the rent. ‘My mom called me during the summer,’ the fourth-year English major recalled one evening after a long shift at Starbucks, where she is a barista. ‘She was like, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have to get a job.”
So, she did. In fact, she got three.
Amador is one of a rapidly growing number of college students across the country who are working 25 or more hours each week while still maintaining their status as full-time students.
For Amador, that means a tricky juggling act involving a weekly total of 30 hours of work, three different employers and three rigorous classes—classes in which she often finds herself lagging.
‘I feel really guilty because I know I don’t give my all in my classes as much as I used to since I’m so behind,’ Amador said. ‘I’m just usually really tired. Every class is just something for me to get through. And attendance-wise, honestly, sometimes I just sleep in because I’m so tired from work.’
This, according to a recent study funded by the Higher Education Project of the State Public Interest Research Groups, is not at all surprising.
The study’s researchers, Tracey King and Ellynne Bannon, gathered data from the U.S. Department of Education and found that roughly 75 percent of all college students in the United States balance school with work, with 46 percent of them working 25 or more hours a week. One in five works full time.
Such long hours would not be possible for a student who works for a UC Irvine employer; all on-campus student positions cap the number of hours a full-time student can work at 19.5 a week. Consequently, many students seek off-campus jobs that don’t limit their hours.
It doesn’t take a degree to figure out that the more a student works, the more his or her grades are likely to suffer.
That realization is what caused Cliff Anderson-Bergman, a fourth-year mathematics major and a transfer student from San Francisco State University, to finally quit his job as a waiter for R&D Caf