Work Learn Earn Presentation
Walk onto any college campus in the United States and chances are that nearly every college student is either working or knows someone who is working to help pay their way through school. With the cost of college tuition, books, housing, and other living expenses rising faster than the cost of inflation, working and learning, or attending school and working at the same time, has become increasingly common.
There are approximately 14 million working learners, or individuals who are simultaneously working and going to school in the U.S.ii
1This brief is based off of the report Who Does Work Work For? Understanding Equity in Working Learner College and Career Success. Sarah Blanchard Kyte, Ph.D., July 2017
While previous generations of college students may have graduated college with little to no debt by working to pay their way through school, today’s high tuition and stagnant wage levels make that nearly impossible to do.iii
Despite higher costs of living, most Americans still believe there is a benefit to attending college and attaining a degree.i And, there is a benefit. Those with a college degree generally have better jobs and earn more over their lifetimes. But, to afford that college degree, today’s college students often must work to supplement living expenses or financial aid packages that either don’t cover the full cost of tuition and basic living expenses, or include student loans that must be paid back.
Given that it is increasingly common for college students to work and attend school at the same time, helping students integrate and balance the demands of working and learning has become an education and economic issue that is at the forefront of thousands of college students’ lives and the lives of their families each and every day. With this in mind, a few questions surface: Who are today’s working learners? How often are they working? Are there benefits to working and learning? What about challenges? Does working during college affect all students equally?
Nearly 60 percent of college students work during their freshman year of college. More specifically, before students even complete their first year of college: