In addition to attending classes and working toward their degrees, a vast majority of Salt Lake Community College students juggle another responsibility — a full-time or part-time job.
Over 80% of SLCC students also work, according to SLCC alumni Silvia Castro and Bryce Whittaker in a guest opinion piece published in the Deseret News.
“These young people often help to care for siblings and contribute financially to their families. The emotional and psychological toll to figure out, on their own, how to make college happen, plus the pressure to uplift their families, is a lot,” Castro and Whittaker wrote.
Nationally, many students work at least part-time while also going to school. Data published by the U.S. Department of Education showed that 39.6% of all full-time undergraduate students and 73.5% of part-time students were employed while enrolled in 2020.
Managing the obligations that come with school and work can be a challenge, but some students have found ways to stay on top of their deadlines while juggling jobs.
Mackenzie Bach, an SLCC business major, said she balances work and school by writing down everything she must do.
“I have been meaning to get a planner the whole time I have been at SLCC, and I finally did it,” Bach said.
Bach explained that it was easy to forget about homework as work shuffled her priorities around a lot. The planner helps her keep track of assignments and deadlines because it serves as a reminder and a visual aid of her progress. After she started writing in her planner, Bach became more motivated to complete and turn in her assignments on time.
Karen Soriano, a medical major, attends classes in the morning, works in the afternoon and does homework at night. She said time management is key.
“Stay determined,” Soriano said. “If you truly want it, then you will keep working hard for it … those days where you don’t want to do anything, just think about the end goal.”
In a study published by the Utah Data Research Center, working students across every demographic had a lower GPA. In most cases, working students also took longer to graduate, had lower retention rates, and attended class full time less than non-working students.
Dzevad Patterson, a University of Utah criminology major, manages a Starbucks 40 hours a week while also going to school full time.
“It’s extremely difficult,” he said. “How I balance [work and school] is with careful time management and consideration of what I need to do and when — also, making sure I am not biting off more than I can chew.”
Patterson also noted that students should “make sure that you are still enjoying yourself in the meantime … [and make] sure not to overdo it. It is just [as] important to not overwork yourself because then everything suffers, including school.”