Studying can be expensive. While costs inevitably vary across Europe, you could expect to invest upwards of €1,000 a year for tuition fees, plus an average of €800 per month on living costs. For many students, this is simply too expensive to self-fund, and they may consider getting a part-time job to help with the costs. But should you work while you study? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of working while studying?
We’ve investigated the pros and cons of working while studying to help you decide if it’s something you should do. In the end, it will all depend on your financial situation, but there are some things you should take into account before you go out and find a job.
Can you work while you study?
Firstly, it’s worth seeking help from your university if you’re considering working while studying. Some universities (for example, Oxford and Cambridge) actively discourage students from getting a part-time job. If this is the case and you’re struggling financially, you may be able to get some funds from your university to help with your living costs.
Additionally, if you’re studying on a visa, you should check your specific requirements for working while studying. For many students in the UK, if you’re studying a full-time Bachelors or Masters programme you will have a limit of 20 working hours per week. If you’re an EU citizen studying in Europe, there are no limits on how often or long you can work. However, if you’re a non-EU citizen on a student visa, you will have to check the requirements, as these will be unique to the country you are studying in. For example, in the Netherlands, non-EU citizens are allowed to work a maximum of 16 hours per week while they study (an exception applies for June, July, and August) and you’ll need a work permit to do so.
Now that you’ve clarified if you’re allowed to get a part-time job during your degree, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of working while studying.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Working While Studying
One of the biggest advantages of working while you study is that you can boost your income. Even if you have a scholarship or are self-funding your studies, working part-time can help you improve your student lifestyle or save for the future.
If you’re studying abroad, having a little extra cash could help you to explore everything that your student city has to offer. Or, you might save some money to travel the country and boost your study abroad experience.
Additionally, getting work experience can boost your career prospects. It will show employers that you’re determined and adaptable, even if you just work as a waiter. It can take a lot of time management and organisation to juggle working and studying, but it will prove to companies that you have a good work ethic.
A part-time job is also a great way of meeting new people and broadening your horizons. If you’re learning a new language while studying abroad, working is also a great way of practising your target language in a natural environment.
However, there are some big disadvantages to working while studying.
Chief among these is that you will have less time to dedicate to study if you have a part-time job. If you’re working 15-20 hours every week, plus attending lectures, workshops, or seminars, there’s a lot to manage. If you know that you’re not good with time management or working under pressure, consider whether working while studying will be worth it. Don’t take a part-time job if it means you can’t dedicate enough time to the degree you’ve chosen!
Working while studying can also take a lot out of you mentally. Keeping track of all your university deadlines while staying focused at your part-time job can be difficult. Be mindful that if it starts to take a toll on you, and you’re able to quit your part-time job, you should do so. If you can’t, make sure to factor in time during your week to de-stress, perhaps by doing exercise or a hobby you enjoy.
Conclusion: Should I work while studying?
There are lots of factors that go into deciding whether or not you should work while studying. In the end, it will come down to the necessity of earning some extra money. If you’re studying in a very expensive city – for example, London – having additional income can help improve your student experience. On the other hand, a part-time job can make your time at university more stressful.
Consider the type of degree you have chosen and how much time you will have to dedicate to it. Humanities degrees are often more flexible with how you use your time than a STEM degree, for example.
If you have good time management skills, then a part-time job is a great way of boosting your employment prospects. But remember that your mental health comes first. If it becomes too stressful, focus your attention on your studies and your health.