Workload

by Cristina Castellanos
(Riverside, CA)

Being a Mexican-American female comes with a lot of responsibilities. You’re obligated to take care of the house, go to school, get good grades, and balance it all out. I’m a first generation high school graduate and first generation college student. Like many other Mexican parents, my parents could not afford to send me to college. When the college application season came around, I had high hopes of getting the most financial aid, but that wasn’t so. The school that gave me the most aid was the University of California, Riverside; which is located less than 10 minutes away from my house. I couldn’t afford to dorm so I’m currently living at home.


Since my parents couldn’t pay for my school materials, I got a summer job at my local Kmart and have been working there since; 5 months in. In September, I got my second job: tutoring at my brother’s middle school. I’m a full-time student with two jobs. Yes, it’s hectic at times, but I manage. Since I started working, I have paid for my books, parking permit, gas for my car, phone bill, new clothes, etc. When I have the extra money, I help my parents out by giving them money for groceries, buying my little brother school supplies, whatever way I can ease our financial situation.

So far, I can say that I love both of my jobs. I’m majoring in Liberal Studies and I plan to become either an elementary or middle school teacher. My second job, tutoring, is fun! I forgot to mention that the school I work for is also the same middle school I went to. I met new friends on the job, both my co-workers and the students I tutor. At first, I was anxious about working as a cashier. I was scared to give someone the wrong change or that a customer would lash out on me because an item rang up higher than the advertised price. These two soon became real, but I learned to not let it get to me. I have to remind myself that I’m there for school.

Read more tips about student jobs from other students.


Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Christina for sharing the challenges of a college workload, jobs and family responsibilities. I’m glad you are managing it all well. I think a job during college gives you valuable life experience in addition to the money. Good luck to you.


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Don't Waste Your Parents' Money

by Kimberley
(Georgia)

This is a picture of me

This is a picture of me

Why College? Why not? My dad's advice still plays in my mind today; " The only thing to beat education is experience." So that is what I did. I found a job. I love serving others. In fact, Eleven years later and yes I'm still at the same job and I still love it. I've gained experience and now, after living life and experiencing life, I can confidently say, "I know what I want to be when I grow up."

At thirty years old I went back to school as a working adult with a renewed sense of what I would like to as a "second career". I am enrolled in an Access Program earning a degree in Human Relations. Eventually, I will be a Christian Counselor specializing in Marriage and Family.

My advice is: if you don't really know what you want to do don't go to school until you are ready. Work, travel, do missions, serve, just experience life and get a feel of what you enjoy and what you are good at. What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? Find Out.

Don't let your parents spend money if you don't have any idea of the kind of career you want to embark on. It is not fair to them.

Don't apply for or take out more financial aid than you will need. Yes, it comes in handy at first but you will have to pay for it later, with interest.

Do ask your employer if they will reimburse you for good grades, even half will be so helpful. If you have to pay your own way you will be more likely to invest in and put more effort into your education, this will be beneficial to you in the long run.

I can remember when I was twenty and all I my friends were in college. I was living in my first apartment with a full-time job. I felt so responsible. Then, my friends had graduated and sadly could not find a job. I was very thankful for my job and gave Glory to God. He was blessing me in deed.

Finally, don’t compare your life to anyone or just go to college because you think it is expected. This will only cause you heartache. Go to college when you are ready. You are unique and so if your life story. You are valuable and have much to contribute to your world. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And, remember, "the only thing that will beat education is experience".

Read more College Financial Aid Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Kimberley for sharing your story. It is a good reminder that if you aren’t ready for college out of high school, don’t waste your parents’ money (or your own), but get a job instead. Go to college when you are ready. Good luck in college.



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The Blank Check

by Ilyas Bankole-Hameed
(Naperville, IL)


This is the story of a studious college student vs a working college student. This past year at college was stressful, between studying, working out, going to class, participating in laboratories and doing homework there wasn't much time for fun. That didn't deter me; I was very familiar with the colloquial phrase "it will pay off". After all, that's all my parents ever told me.

With this in mind I couldn't seem to grasp the idea why so many of my peers still went out, and got jobs if college would eventually pay you off. Their lollygagging at work only motivated me to continue working harder so college could pay off more.

I had gone through countless sleepless nights striving to do exceptionally well in school and simply couldn’t wait to cash in my grades. Days pass that felt like years, eventually I got my grades back and shockingly I had done it. All the way at the bottom of that lifeless pail transcript was my GPA, 3.91. I was simply ecstatic.

I frantically rushed over to the registrar’s office hoping to get my check. The assistant however, was a little perplexed upon my inquiry. She explained that college is not a job, rather a means for you to get a good job, and that I would not be paid, apparently I am paying the college to learn at their facility.

After hearing this, my heart dropped I felt like my peers had won, while I was wasting time in class they were making money. Noticing the sudden change in ambiance the registrar assured me that my hard work would pay off and that I should keep it up. So who really won the battle? The answer is simple. Who is typing the essay for financial aid?



Thanks Ilyas for sharing your story. Working during college is a great idea for some students, but not everyone. You learn both at school and at a job, and your education will pay off in the future. Best of luck to you.

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Summer Jobs

by Abigail
(Brookings, SD, USA)

Most college students don't think a lot about their summer plans when they sign a lease to an apartment or house in their college town. Rent for those four months can add up to quite the dent in your bank account! Unfortunately, most property companies do not allow an eight month lease and a four month grace period for your break. Other hidden fees that most students over look is your cable, internet, utilities, and electricity bills. Although these don't even cross your mind when you are trying to find the perfect house for parties, these bills still rush in when your house is vacant all summer long!

I would encourage finding a summer job in your college town or in close distance to commute. By finding the opportunities to work and live under the same roof you are already obligated to pay for, you can save a couple thousand dollars to put towards your tuition. Since most places turn into a ghost town while school is out, it is very easy to find jobs! Working a night job can make you a significant more amount of money than working minimum wage during the day, so scope these jobs out first. In all reality, you are a college student so I'm sure you've pulled all-nighters before!

While living at your home away from home during the summer, you can make more money working a night job, usually pick up quite a few hours, save yourself from paying two rents, and also take a couple summer classes to get ahead. Not only does this help that you are already at school, but by doing this over the summer, you might even be able to graduate a semester or two early!! Which will definitely save you money and get you out into the work-force earlier!

Read more tips on Student Jobs from other students and parents who have been through the student job process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Abigail for sharing some tips about summer jobs. I like your suggestion to take summer classes to get ahead. Best of luck to you.


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