Walk into the Olive Garden on McGalliard and you might be seated by Sarah Vrazalich. What you won’t see about Sarah when she leads you to a seat is that she is busy. Hidden behind the menus and smiles is the pile of homework waiting to be done.

But that is for later. For now, Sarah works her shift as a hostess, where she has been for a year and a half and lets the homework sit and wait. She says she sometimes wishes she could do some of her work during lulls at work, but she can’t. It must wait until later.

It must wait, in fact, until she is off the clock and at home. It’s probably going to be a late night, one in a string of many that make up Sarah’s life during the semester.

Ball State professor of adult and community education Joe Armstrong said he encourages students to separate the different parts of their lives.

“I encourage, if you can, to compartmentalize your life,” he said. Complete compartmentalization is impossible, he added, but “the closer you can get, the better.”

For Sarah, this means working while she is at work and leaving homework for the times between and after class and work.

Sleep must wait until the homework and responsibilities have ended and only when that happens may she rest, to wake up and start all over again tomorrow.

A professor of economics at Ball State, Cecil Bohanon, says students have jobs while they go to school for a few reasons.

“One, [college students] need to pay their bills, and two, they like the money,” he said.

Sarah, like 72 percent of college students, according to U.S. Census data, juggle working a job with their classes. Twenty percent of those students work full-time jobs of 35 or more hours each week.

“I would not be able to be in school if I didn’t have a job because I wouldn’t be able to buy the textbooks or afford to live up here,” Sarah says.

Each week Sarah works between 20 and 25 hours during the semester, and closer to 40 hours each week during the summer. By working, Sarah can pay her bills now instead of taking out loans that she will have to pay back later, like she did her freshman year.

“I know [the loan] is just accruing interest,” she said, and she is not excited about having to pay it off.

Students today are taking on more debt than in the past. Cecil said he comes from a middle-class family and that he was able to graduate from a private college with only $500 of debt. Today, the figures are closer to $30,000.

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