He wakes up each morning overwhelmed with stress and already exhausted from the challenges that lie ahead of him for the day. JT Kelley, an English major at American River College, heads out preparing himself mentally, knowing he will have to work two jobs and still find time to do his homework before he can socialize with friends or family.
“I have no social life. Most of my friends go to school or work two jobs as well,” Kelley said. “I get to see my girlfriend probably twice a week.”
Sacramento’s current unemployment rate is 11.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This has led many people to believe that there are no job opportunities available, and is partly responsible for why people assume college students are either jobless or underworked; so the fact that some students are working multiple jobs may be counterintuitive. Since part-time work is more common, some students are working two jobs to make up the hours and money that one higher-paying job would give them.
“It sucks. It really does, but you do what you can to make money,” Kelley said. “It’s not so much having to even find multiple jobs, it’s just any way to make money or (have) a steady paycheck.”
Kelley attends classes at ARC on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for a total of 12 hours a week. On the days that he is not attending school, he is busy working the entire day away at two different jobs. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Kelley works from 3 to 7 a.m. at Starbucks and then 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Urban Outfitters. Surprisingly, after that he still finds time to do his homework.
Balancing priorities such as work and school is difficult enough when only working one job, and having to constantly move from one activity to the next can prove to be strenuous for even the most organized students. Nevertheless, several students at ARC manage to face these struggles of making ends meet every day, all while trying to become financially stable.
Kasey Morris, a psychology major at ARC, says he works two jobs to establish himself. “Financially, I need it. Car insurance, food, rent: a part-time job doesn’t cover it all,” Morris said.
The workload these students take on requires a lot of responsibility and constant organization, according to Morris. Working multiple jobs requires them to make sure they can get from one job to the next without any delays. For these students, time is of the essence.
Early childhood education major Jennifer Geyer spends most of her week going to school and working at Safeway. However, she also has dedicated every weekend to working as a childcare provider at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church. Although some churches are strictly volunteer-based, Geyer’s job is paid because of her longevity at the church.
Geyer has been working as a childcare provider since the age of thirteen. She has had to sacrifice weekends with friends, and days off altogether, in order to pay for school and the essentials she needs to survive. “I don’t really get to do what half the kids my age are doing,” Geyer said. “But it’s worth it when I get this huge paycheck every week.”
Students who work two jobs have less time to spend doing schoolwork, which means they run a higher risk of failing classes if problems at work get in the way. For many students, days off from work are non-existent and most of their time spent awake is at work, rather than at home with friends and loved ones. “School days are my days off,” Geyer joked.
Since most of their time is spent at work and at school, much-needed sleep is usually put on the back burner. This is something most college students can relate to, but students working two jobs have even fewer hours to dedicate to this necessity. “The hardest thing about working two jobs is trying to make up time for (guaranteed) sleep,” Morris said.
One other thing these students have in common is their dedication to completing school. They hold education as the highest priority over having any job or seeing their friends and family. When asked how he balanced school and work Morris said, “Really, I put school first. That’s something many students can learn from.”
Each of these students works extremely hard to pay for school, so they can obtain a degree and start their careers. Geyer’s goal is to become a preschool teacher, while Morris plans to go into law enforcement. Kelley would like to be a barber, and wants to graduate with a degree in English and a Ph.D in philosophy.
Kelley’s advice to all students; “School first, you know? A job is right now, but school— school is forever.”