Nov 18th, 2022, 03:00 PM

Master’s Students Shouldn’t Be Working To Live

By Brooke Berger
Credit Image: Unsplash / Robert Bye
Graduate students shouldn't work off-campus jobs in order to have a life outside of class

I completed my bachelor’s degree while working part time during the academic year and full time in the summers. It was normal. Working as a bartender was a manageable integration to my full class load. I was able to focus the majority of my week to studies and weekends towards my job.

According to my undergraduate institution's registrar, students should estimate two hours of study per every credit hour of class. The Credit Hour Policy at AUP suggests a minimum of two to three hours per credit. However, I’ve found the load to be more in the three to four hour range. Working off campus in undergrad is conceivable, but graduate students need on-campus jobs that can work with their student schedule; working off campus simply doesn’t work.

In one of the introductory Zoom meetings before entering the Global Communications program at AUP, I asked if it was possible to work while in the graduate program. University advisors stated several times that the MA program is intensive. I, probably like you, am someone who does not give up easily. When I want something bad enough, I can usually make it work. I asked more people about working off campus; again, multiple professors including the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Hannah Westley, told me it would be a difficult path to continue on. I learned quickly that my professors knew a bit more about the subject than I did. The fact of the matter is, more is expected of master’s students, and the quantity and depth of readings have proven to be a heavy undertaking. 

Credit Image: Unsplash /  Caleb Woods

Feeling like a failure, stressed and drowning under mountains of readings and daunting upcoming assignments, I started reaching out to other students at AUP. My findings were that many students at AUP have felt pressure to leave positions, drop their hours significantly, or drop classes in order to succeed. From my conversations, this pressure is heavily felt by the master's students. 

When asked if he had noticed an impact on his studies from working, student Sebastian Febres said he noticed it on his study time and grades. “Because I was working, my 3.9 GPA dropped… I was working about 30 hours a week. That’s why I decided to decrease my hours to two to three hours per week and I’m doing an internship, about eight hours per week, which is manageable.” Sebastian was in the MA/BA program but he recently decided to pursue only the BA program for the moment so that he can balance his studies, job, and his internship. 

Maddie Clark, a Global Communications master’s student, told me that she feels she needs to lower her working schedule from her current 25 hours a week, and plans to quit at the end of the semester. When asked if she felt any stress or anxiety about the combination of working and being in school, Maddie said, “Yes, I absolutely have felt so much stress and anxiety. My work expects a lot from me and fails to remember that I’m also a full time student. It’s honestly become incredibly difficult to manage and a huge source of stress for me.”

Image Credit: Unsplash / Elisa Ventur

As graduate students, we are being led up the next rung of the ladder to our academic careers. Masters programs are designed to weld baby scholars into trained academics with the skills to research, critique, and become the masters of our fields. Unless there is absolutely no alternative, students who want to give their full attention to their program and enjoy some of the perks of living abroad should not work off campus. I have met with other students who have off campus jobs and thrive in both their studies and careers, but they seem to be the exceptions to the rule.

Embrace a slightly tighter budget, take out a few more loans, or ask the Financial Aid department about any other solutions, because the stress of working while studying won’t matter if you’re not able to take anything away from this learning experience. If you’re feeling stress from your classes, please reach out for help. Professors are here to teach and guide you and they want your success and can help you; just ask. I also found the Student Health & Well-Being office helpful in finding support with mental health struggles triggered by the intensity of the MA program. Don’t hesitate to reach out!