Imagine the perfect student: active in class, dedicated to his studies, academically advanced, participates in extracurricular activities, and only concentrates on studies. But what is the reality? Being unmotivated to do something, having personal problems, being lazy, having mental issues, partying first, and thinking about studies later, and trying to become independent young adults by working is the reality of a student’s life. All the things mentioned are accepted and understood as a normal part of a student’s life except one – working while studying.
Why working while studying is unacceptable? There are a few reasons. There are times where you have no choice but to skip a lecture which is disliked by lecturers and the university’s administration, especially in universities where attendance at lectures is mandatory. Exhaustion is also a problem as students may be too tired to study, and most importantly, it is believed that working while studying leads to poor academic performance, yet there is no definite research that confirms the statement. The impact of working while studying has most of the time been measured by the correlation between the number of hours spent working and student’s academic performance. The results of the research, however, are inconclusive and contradictory. Some research does show that working while studying has a negative impact on student’s marks some research does not find a correlation between working and bad academic performance, other research shows that it is, in fact, beneficial to students, and the students who work as well as study perform better.
Working while studying does not impact your academic performance external factors, such as lack of time management, do. Time management is the key factor in finding a balance between working and studying. If time is distributed correctly, then there is enough time for working, studying, and resting, otherwise, there is a big possibility for burnout and poor academic performance. A lack of good study habits and prioritizing assignments can make students fall behind in university work.
Do students really need to work? According to eurostudent.eu research “Students’ employment during lecture-free period” conducted on 11th of December 2017, 63,8 percent of Lithuanian students have jobs during the lecture-free period. It can only be speculated that the number has risen due to the rising cost of university studies. But for example, in 2019, 1458 students were admitted to bachelor’s and integrated studies at KTU from which 1168 to state-funded and 289 to non-state-funded study places. It means that around 80,1 percent of students do not have to pay for their studies and because of free studies they should not need to work, that is not true.
A student, as well as every other independently living person, has to pay for his livelihood. Accommodation, food, and transportation costs are still necessary to be paid and these are the bare minimums. An adult has a job with which he can pay for it, but a student does not. Students not always can rely on parents or other family members to support them financially. According to Lithuanian Student Association research in 2018, more than 25 percent of first and more than 50 percent of the second year undergraduate students work and the main reason for the work is that paid incentive scholarships or parental support are not enough to survive.
What can be done to normalize the idea of working students, or how can the government help students financially? All danish students get paid to get a higher education however it is not possible in Lithuania. European students can also get the financial support which Danish students get, but they must meet the required criteria. These requirements could be implemented in Lithuania and the students who meet the requirements could apply for financial support.
EU students in Denmark need to work 10-12 hours per week to receive financial support because they must obtain a taxable income. The hour per week may differ, but the total amount of hours worked at the end of the month must reach 43 hours. Lithuanian students would be encouraged to not work as much as possible in a month but only the minimum required to get the financial support. Lithuanian students then would be able to concentrate more on their studies and not worry about finding money to pay for the living costs.
Working while studying should not be a problem for universities. Missing a lesson or two due to work should be understood as it gives students the money that they need to study. Therefore, working while studying should be normal and understandable. Nowadays, having a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement to receive a well-paid job, it is also frowned upon to not have a higher education degree. People should become more open-minded and understand that working while studying is normal as it gives the opportunity for students to create their path to a better life.