Within the Agnes Scott student body, there are tons of reasons why a student might feel stressed, from homework to the mental toll that college can have on one’s well-being. But for a particular group of students on campus, they often shoulder extra long work hours every week because of their outside commitments to their demanding jobs. Balancing a class and work schedule is not easy because whether it means driving under hazardous conditions, confronting Atlanta traffic, or catching a Lyft or Uber, there is always the constant pressure to be somewhere. Taking a breath after class is not an option for everyone, and for those that depend on a regular income, their rigorous schedules may not be obvious to their fellow classmates or professors. In some ways, this is an invisible lifestyle on campus.
“Some days I wonder if my day will ever end because of going from school straight to work straight home to do homework,” Maggie Parker ‘20 says. Parker depends upon her job as a nanny to buy groceries, gas, and to offset the cost of her tuition that her scholarship does not cover.
When it comes to coursework, Parker maintains that “. . . professors don’t really care about working students. A deadline is a deadline.”
Another student worker is Bryanna Rivera ‘18 who currently works at Lindbergh USA, which is a men’s designer fashion store, and is a personal assistant to the executive director of the company. In her job capacity, Rivera usually works 30-35 hours:
“Typically, I have to be at the store at 10 [in the morning]… but I could be at the store as late as 10 at night.”
A job is not a choice for Rivera as well, who says “If I didn’t work, I wouldn’t be here at all. I’d be back in Chicago… I still have to come up with $6,000 on my own.”
“For the first two years, I was working near 60 hours a week. There was one point when my dad was diagnosed with a condition that affected his lungs and heart. At that time, I was working three jobs on top of being a full-time student. I was exhausted.”
A way for these students to feel more involved would be for diversity and intersectionality talks on campus to include people who hail from economically-strained backgrounds. In class, professors should question comments that deride and mock people of lower incomes, such as “I would never build a plate for someone.” This can be extremely hurtful to a student nearby who does actually perform that task, or whose family members are employed in the service industry.
In addition, the Center for Diversity and the Wellness Center should be more public about their support for working students, “One of the things that [the college] should really talk about is how to manage working full time and being a student,” Rivera said.
Even though there are hardships that come with being a working student, Rivera says “I’m honestly grateful for my experience.”
It is important to note, thought, that while working students do choose to work “that choice is really not a choice. If we didn’t work we wouldn’t be in school. Simple as that,” Parker explains