Most colleges have on-campus jobs available for students wishing to make extra money while they are in school. Depending on the university, such jobs may include working in the cafeteria, the mailroom, student events, or a number of other positions. Although some jobs are explicitly designated for students who qualify for the federal work-study program, other jobs are available to all students who may apply. However, reserving on-campus jobs for needy students is an important strategy to ensure that individuals who have a hard time paying for college have access to an opportunity to earn extra money.
As mentioned in a few prior articles, I worked a number of jobs as a student both in college and during law school. In college, I was a community advisor, and I received free housing in exchange for living in residence halls with underclassmen. I also worked as a tour guide in college, and I made a respectable amount of money per tour. In law school, I worked for residence life at the front desk of our dorm and in the package room.
These part-time jobs helped me reduce my educational costs and made me understand how reserving on-campus jobs for needy students is a solid strategy. In college, I saved the cost of housing, which was a substantial amount of money over the few years I worked the community advisor job. I also picked up some scratch working as a tour guide (and the admissions office had amazing cookies that I frequently enjoyed!). In law school, I made around double the minimum wage as a residence life employee, which covered most of my food and entertainment expenses.
However, while working these jobs, some of my coworkers were not on financial aid and probably did not have much of a need for extra money. For instance, one of my good friends as a community advisor had his parents pay for his entire college education. He was doing the community advisor job mainly to become more social and meet new friends. In addition, not everyone at my college was guaranteed on-campus housing, but community advisors were, so this might have been another motivation. Furthermore, I am sure that many people viewed the tour guide gig I had in college as a resume builder more than a way to earn income.
In law school, some of my coworkers who also had my residence life job did not seem to have much financial need. That job paid well and people could earn a substantial amount of money working for residence life and earning around double the minimum wage. Nevertheless, some students really needed the extra income, and others could rely on family for financial support.
Reserving on-campus jobs for needy students is vital for maintaining a financially-diverse student body. Some students may be unable to attend certain schools without the certainty that they will be able to make extra cash through on-campus work. Individuals from financially-disadvantaged backgrounds have perspectives that can be important to a student body, and colleges should ensure that on-campus work is available to such students.
In addition, reserving on-campus jobs for needy students also ensures that colleges have a workforce of people who are committed to doing the best possible work at their jobs. If students need a job to pay for food and other expenses while attending school, they will likely do everything they can to keep the job and get more hours or promotions at the job they have. For instance, while working at the concierge desk and in the package room in law school, the supervisors would take performance into consideration when making the schedule and deciding who could work lucrative holiday hours and exam periods. Since I really could use the extra money, I tried to perform my duties to the best of my abilities so I was looked upon favorably by my supervisors.
Colleges should also promote reserving on-campus jobs for needy students in order to advance the philanthropic mission of a university. Many colleges try to provide students an education without regard to a student’s ability to pay for their studies. For this reason, many universities have need-based financial aid programs that provide grants and other financial assistance to students of needy backgrounds. In order to fund such need-based financial aid programs, colleges charge all students a high tuition rate that wealthy students can afford and then use this money to subsidize the education of needy students.
By reserving on-campus jobs for needy students, colleges are furthering the same philanthropic motives that are behind need-based financial aid programs. This policy also a distribution of economic opportunity to students who need the financial assistance. In addition, the more money that needy students can earn through part-time work, the less money they will need to be provided in financial assistance or loans, so there are also financial considerations at play as well.
Of course, sometimes reserving on-campus jobs for needy students might impact the pool of job candidates that are available for a given position. As a result, in most instances, needy students should just be given preference for certain on-campus roles. In any case, reserving on-campus jobs for needy students empowers such students to take financial control of their education and also promote the philanthropic mission of many universities.