Working too hard

Students balance time between jobs, school as semester comes to end

As finals week begins, students who are working their way through college are facing more than just impending exams. With long hours on the job, many may find themselves burnt out by the end of the semester.

Jena Grosser, a Resident Assistant, is one such student trying to find a way to balance her time between residents in her hall, her classes and the search for a job to earn money over the holidays.

"I'm a student foremost. That's my profession; but I'm also an RA, that's my 24/7 job," Grosser said.

RAs work for the university at the rate of free room and board each semester with a $1,000 stipend per year. Grosser explained the stipend is given to the RAs because of their inability to seek employment outside of their position.

While it may appear that RAs have little to do but sit in their rooms and earn money, Grosser said such misconceptions simply are not true.

On a typical Monday evening, Grosser will often try to work on papers she has to write, only to be interrupted by residents seeking her advice at an almost constant pace from 7 p.m. to midnight. When she is finally able to work on her paper, it may be 3 a.m. before she is able to complete it.

"Residents are our top priority," Grosser said of her sometimes exhausting job. "If I can't complete an assignment because I put it off until the last minute, and I have a situation to deal with then that's my own fault."

For other Ball State students, employment may be sought at locations both on and off campus. Those who live in the residence halls may find it convenient to work on-campus, but according to Ball State policy, they cannot work more than 40 hours over the course of two weeks -- a breakdown of 20 hours each week.

Larry Beck, associate director of Career Center, said working more than 30 hours per week adds unneeded suffrage to full-time students, whether it be their health, social activities or grades that are affected.

"The philosophy of the university remains that full-time students are here to be students first and employees second," Beck said.

Though Beck said they cannot monitor students who work off-campus, a university-wide survey distributed to sophomores in the spring of 2001 broke down the estimated number of hours of work completed by those who responded.

Of the 1,045 accredited sophomores who returned the survey, one-third said they work more than 15 hours a week; one-third work one to 15 hours a week and one-third spent no time working.

Beck said that when students work more than they can handle, grades are generally the first thing to suffer.

For most students, working while attending school is a balancing act that requires commitment to priorities.

Junior Sarah Kidder, Pizza Hut employee, is involved in several non-school related activities while completing her degree in journalism. As a member of Ball State Swing Society, Kidder said the dance club would be the first thing to go if her grades began to suffer.

Kidder works at the Pizza Hut on Wheeling Avenue five to 10 hours a week. Unfortunately, Kidder said, in order to pay for room and board, along with a recent car purchase, she is seeking employment elsewhere in order to receive higher pay and more hours per week.

"I'm always worried about money, though I probably shouldn't be," Kidder said. "I know that my parents would kick in if I was in a pinch."

Although Kidder said she has student loans through the financial aid office that help her pay for her tuition, she also works over the summer to pay for the bulk of her education.

It is worth it to work a lot of hours in the summer to concentrate on extracurricular activities and grades in the fall, Kidder said.


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