The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Student workers face unique challenges in college

24% of current W&L students have at least one job on campus to support themselves. Working impacts their student life experience and academics
Veronika Kolosova
Adam Chin, ‘24, and Lily Greenwald, ‘25, staff Washington and Lee’s Box Office.

Washington and Lee’s federal work-study program helps 600 students afford college tuition. But student workers say their campus job impacts how much time they have for academics and social life, placing them at a disadvantage,

Lucas Chacon, ’27, combines his academics with a job at the University Store and competitive swimming. He said it can be a struggle to juggle academics, work and extracurricular activities on campus.

“In my work study, I am not able to get [academic] work done. Most of the time, I’m worn out by the time I finish my work-study,” Chacon said. “I have to rest afterwards, so it takes time away from my academics.”

Washington and Lee meets “full demonstrated need of every admitted applicant” with financial packages that offer eligible students participation in the work-study program. Students can earn up to $3,000 per year by working between seven and nine hours a week.

On average, students of private, non-profit universities spend $2,980 per year in addition to tuition and room and board, according to CollegeData. Work-study theoretically pays enough for these personal expenses. Twenty-four percent of all current students at Washington and Lee are enrolled in work-study.

Lily Greenwald, ‘25, works at the Box Office at the Lenfest Center for the Arts. She said she is “very grateful” for the experience, community and opportunities granted through her work-study, but she sometimes feels at a disadvantage.

“Sometimes I compare myself to others who don’t have to do [work]. Maybe, I would be more successful if I didn’t have this filling up my schedule or maybe I’d be able to join more clubs,” Greenwald said. “But in the end, I think I’m more grateful that I have the opportunity to work in college.”

Brooke Merchant, supervisor at the Tea House, said that working can help take students’ minds off academic worries. But it also limits their free time to get work done throughout the week.

“Students that are not in a work-study may have the whole week,” Merchant said. 

Despite the time-management challenges, Chacon said working improved his social skills and gave him a community on campus. The university administration promoted this positive sentiment.

“Work-study is a positive experience that helps students connect with the university community,” said James Kastor, director of financial aid. Working as a student “helps to develop critical thinking, teamwork, time-management skills, and essential professionalism,” according to the university’s website.

But Kastor also emphasized that work-study jobs operate from an academics-first standpoint.

“Students may sometimes need to forgo their work-study hours for a day or even a week in order to study or complete assignments,” he said.

Supervisors said they understand that students need to prioritize their studies. “Making sure you get good grades is more important than making tea,” Merchant said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Veronika Kolosova, A&L Editor

Comments (0)

All The Ring-tum Phi Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *