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Working through college?

  1. Mar 29, 2015 #1
    Hi all,

    It's my third year of college studying mathematics. Some of the upper level courses are more challenging, although I'm making it through them. After school, I want to get a masters or PhD in mathematics.

    I currently work 10-15 hours a week, and sometimes this adds a lot of stress. Particularly when exams come around, I could use the extra time to study.

    I want to ask my boss to let me stop working during the school year. We're on pretty good terms, so I'm confident he wouldn't object.

    I really want to give my education all my effort. At the same time, I don't want to "give up" on work. Yes, working and doing school can be stressful, but maybe that's good? Maybe it's a useful challenge? In addition, I feel an obligation to keep working - as if I would betray the company if I quit during the school year.

    What would you do? Did you work through college, or did you devote your whole time to academics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2015 #2
    Here's the real question... do you need the money? If not, then I would agree that education is more important.
  4. Mar 29, 2015 #3
    Are you doing poorly in your classes right now with the work?

    The hours you listed are not that much to be honest and should be manageable. I wouldn't leave a position if you didn't absolutely have to especially if your on good terms.
  5. Mar 29, 2015 #4


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    Fewer courses per semester. Keep working.
  6. Mar 29, 2015 #5

    I think I'm doing well so far. But I know I could study more assiduously, if I had more time.

    I guess I'm trying to think ahead to graduate school. If I want to succeed, do I need to do well in undergrad, or fantastic in undergrad? Obviously, fantastic is better than well. But I'm trying to weigh whether slight gains in academics will be worth suspending work during the academic year.

    (Background: I work at a small manufacturing company in their offices. I do miscellaneous office work, as well as some IT stuff.)
  7. Mar 29, 2015 #6
    Why do you recommend that, symboli? Part of me has been thinking that, if I'm going to graduate school, I should load up on as many mathematics courses as possible before then.
  8. Mar 29, 2015 #7


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    Why? You are WORKING AS AN EMPLOYED PERSON. My suggestion is do fewer courses while you also have a job so you can do better at fewer courses per semester. Loading-up while you must spend time working is the wrong way to go; unless you can accept quitting your job so you can load-up on courses. Finding a job these days is more difficult than it was twenty years ago. Therefore, I say keep working, enroll in fewer courses each term so you can give more study time to each.
  9. Mar 30, 2015 #8


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    While in theory, if you have more time to dedicate to your studies you should perform better in terms of grades and understanding, in practice this can backfire. So a lot can depend on the type of student you are, how you do under stress, and what you get out of your work experience.

    In some cases, a part-time job can give you a much-needed intellectual break from your studies. You benefit from this because you get the break, but also get to feel like you're doing something productive with your time - earning money and gaining work experience. When some people dump the job, they find they still need that intellectual down-time and so they turn to other, less-productive avenues and end up procrastinating.

    The call on company loyalty is obviously dependent on the specifics of your situation. In general, for a student part-time job I wouldn't worry too much about it unless you have some obligations in writing, or if quitting is going to result in a poor reference later on.
  10. Mar 30, 2015 #9
    You make some good points. I would probably end up finding my down time in video games, or something equally unproductive.
  11. Mar 30, 2015 #10
    Thanks everyone for the input. The general consensus seems to be that keeping the job is a better idea.
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