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Ask Dave

Working vs. Learning

Ben asks if his college freshman son should work during his first year or focus on school.

QUESTION: Ben on Twitter asks if his college freshman son should work during his first year or focus on school.

ANSWER: There's nothing wrong with either direction. There is mythology out there that says if they work, their grades will go down. The actual research says that kids who work during school carry higher GPAs than those who don't.

The reason is very simple: They have to manage their time and their life. The amount of time most college students spend on social activities and watching TV, if they just worked that amount of time, they could pay cash for college. I have not required our children to work during the school year. All three of them have good work ethic, though. They are not bums.

In the summertime, they don't sit on their butts. They get a job. My sophomore son will finish his exams next week and then he starts his job. You have to do something, otherwise you're just sitting around. That's useless, and we don't do useless around here. That's not a plan.

I did not force them to work during college, but I did during high school. Plus, anytime there is stuff to do around the house or maybe if we need to sort books, we all jump in and get that stuff done.

But the thinking of "I don't want my kid to work so they can spend time studying" is just mythology. The kid who works carries a higher GPA on average because they learn to manage their life. And honestly, they don't spend as much time playing beer pong.