More NKU students than national average work off-campus

Wake up. Go to school. Go to work. Rinse, wash, repeat. This is the daily routine for many college students across the country.

And at NKU, this trend of students working while attending school is higher than many other institutions for higher education across the country.

In fact, 77 percent of the NKU seniors surveyed worked for pay off-campus, compared to 56 percent of seniors nationally, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement published in 2012.

63 percent of first-year NKU students surveyed said they worked for pay off-campus, compared to the 30 percent of first-year students nationally.

The large amount of NKU students work while attending college for various reasons and some  of these students struggle to balance their college life with their work life, while others have no problem staying on top of things.

“Your job is to graduate,” said Candace Cooper, a senior electronic media and broadcasting student. Cooper has found a way to balance her school life and work life. She takes 18 credit hours at NKU while working at the customer service desk at Student Support Services. She also works in the floral department at the Kroger in Edgewood, Ky.

Working while attending college can have both positive and negative effects on different aspects of college life. Student Wellness Manager Rachel Bishop said it depends on the student’s financial situation and workload.

Susan Mospens, director of student achievement programs and services, is in agreement that work can be both a positive and negative aspect of a college student’s life.

Mospens said students run into trouble when they cannot balance their work and school life. She said that when students start to work 15 or 20 hours a week is when “you start to see an academic cost.”

“Working 10 to 15 hours a week can actually be positive,” Mospens said.

Mospens encourages on-campus employment. Campus employment can work around class schedules and the students are only allowed to work a maximum of 25 hours a week.


In a 2013 study from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, titled “Working and Non-working University Students: Anxiety, Depression, and Grade Point Average,” researchers took a look at the grade point averages of a group of students who worked and a group of students who did not work. It was concluded that working while attending college had little effect on the grades of students. In fact, students who worked performed slightly better, with a 2.95 grade point average, than those who did not, who had a 2.93 grade point average.

Mariah Tackett, an undeclared freshman, works anywhere from 15 to 35 hours a week while taking 15 credit hours. Tackett works at Wendy’s, where she typically works from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. three to five days a week. She said she has to work to pay for “everything that my scholarships don’t take care of.”

Tackett said while her grades haven’t exactly suffered, she has had to make some sacrifices when it comes to her classwork. One of her classes requires her to turn some of her work in online. Due to having to go to work straight from school, Tackett said she has had to turn some of her assignments in late. Other than that, Tackett said working hasn’t had much effect on her grades.

“It hasn’t really affected my grades,” Tackett said. “I’ve been able to keep them up.”

Tackett also said she has never had to choose work over school and work has never made her miss a class.

“My school would always come first no matter what,” she said.

Cooper said there was a time when working was taking a toll on her classwork. Before she worked with Student Support Services and Kroger, she worked at a nursing home for three years. She had to quit this job because of the effect it was having on her education. She said the job contributed to her failing a course.

“I was too busy trying to juggle working and school work,” Cooper said.

Mariah Childs, a freshman psychology major, said she hasn’t let her work affect her grades. Childs works at Wild Mike’s in Western Hills and takes 10 credit hours. She works between eight to ten hours per week, but she never works more than 11. Since she doesn’t work over 11 hours, she is able to stay on top her class work.

She counts on the money that she makes from her job to pay some bills and put gas in her car. Childs said she also has to have extra money because her mom works out of town and doesn’t leave any extra money while she’s gone.

“Work doesn’t affect it, just my laziness,” Childs joked about her grades.


Health & Wellness

Studies show that working while attending college can have an effect on the health of students. In the same study done by Midwestern State University, students were asked to take the Beck Anxiety Inventory, which is a 21 question survey that measured the level of anxiety in an individual. The study concluded that students who did not work were shown to have minimal anxiety while students who did work had mild anxiety.

Though Tackett said that working doesn’t affect her physical health, she said it does bring on stress. She feels like she doesn’t have enough time to work on projects for her classes.

“My stress level has definitely increased,” Tackett said.

Tackett also mentioned that working sometimes leads to a lack of sleep.

Bishop said this could be a problem, especially if students supplement this lack of sleep with energy drinks.

Lack of sleep was another obstacle that Cooper had to deal with in her past job at the nursing home. She not only mentioned a lack of sleep, but also the fact that she didn’t have time to exercise. She said she was so focused on work that she was unable to focus on herself.

Childs said it isn’t the balance of working a job and going to school that stresses her out. It is the job itself.

She works as a hostess, busser and cashier at Wild Mike’s. Unruly customers and co-workers sometimes add stress to her life. Childs said the worst are the “lifers” or employees who have made a career out of working at the restaurant. She said she has been accused of stealing tip money from co-workers. A co-worker also complained to the manager on her for doing the co-worker’s work.

“It beats you down,” Childs said.


Involvement in activities on campus is another area that working while attending school can affect.

Tackett said her work schedule doesn’t allow her to be as involved as she would like to be. Her schedule is always changing every two weeks.

This really limits how much she can be involved with different activities on campus. Even though it’s hard for her to get involved, she is still able to participate in Greek life as a member of the Delta Gamma fraternity.

In comparison, Childs said the flexibility of her job allows her to be involved with various things on campus. At her job, if she needs a certain time off, she can find someone to switch with her.

Although it wasn’t always the case, Cooper has been able to be involved in many different activities on campus. When she used to work at the nursing home, she was unable to attend many on-campus events. Now, Cooper hosts her own radio show titled “Black Royalty Radio” for Norse Code Radio and serves as a student ambassador for student support services.

Cooper shared some tips on how she balances her school life and work life. First, she recommends getting an agenda to keep track of homework. In addition, she suggests getting a big calendar and writing the due dates on there.

“Now I’m forever grateful for my agenda,” Cooper said.