Working does not point to lower GPA

A survey of working undergraduate students show they feel working has little effect on their grades.


Infographic by Emily Hayashida/THE CHIMES

Melissa Hedrick, Writer

In a survey of 220 Biola undergraduate students, 98 responded they are employed on-campus, off-campus or both. Of this amount, 48 percent expressed working had a small, but not concerning effect, on their grades.

A Personal Understanding

Of the workers surveyed, the majority, 55 students, work an average of 10 to 20 hours a week. Overall, 32 work less than 10 hours, eight work 20 to 30 hours, and three work 30 to 40. These results show students have a personal understanding of the time they can devote to their respective positions.

“It becomes very important to choose well what you do both curricularly and co-curricularly and so I think the better the student knows himself, knows how they’re wired, knows what they want to do, that will do well for them,” said Mark Matthes, director of career development and success.

Reasons for Limitations

Though Biola’s human resources has limited the number of hours students can work, it is not for the purpose of ensuring academic achievement. The Affordable Care Act states employers must provide healthcare for employees who work 30 or more hours a week on average. Therefore, students are limited to 25 hours per week when classes are in session and 32 hours per week when classes are not in session, so their weekly average at the end of the year will not reach 30 hours.

“[Students are] the ones who know their financial situation, they’re the ones who know their physical limits and how much they can do. It’s going to vary student by student […] so we have to leave it to the student to use good judgement,” said Ron Mooradian, senior director of facilities management.

Lack of Strong Ties

While some departments on campus do require students to complete internships as a graduation requirement, there are otherwise no strong ties between students jobs and their education. Other universities, such as Berea College in Berea, Ky., have educational models that may allow for lower or no tuition fees, but require all students to work a certain amount of hours per week in campus departments.

“[Berea has] a very low tuition rate and they also don’t hire as many full-time staff, so they essentially have the students running a lot of the school and so it’s a different model than most schools do, but they clearly have a different philosophy on importance of work,” Matthes said.

Feeling the Pressure

Students on Biola’s campus feel the pressure of tuition fees, which is one factor driving students to employment.

“I need the extra money working in order to pay for what scholarships and loans are not covering,” said Ariana Gruber, junior communication disorders major and student worker for Bon Appetite’s Soaring Eagle and catering service.

Another model is cooperative education where students alternate working full-time and taking classes. An example of this system is found at Drexel University. Students can choose different tracks depending how many cooperative programs they aim to complete and then alternate between classes and working in six-month periods.

Graduation & Employability

Matthes said these students graduate within five years instead of four, but that their work experience increases their employability after graduation.  

Biola students do seek jobs that they can include on their resume, often holding their position at the same time they are taking classes. This environment can be beneficial to their development, for example, senior communication major Amir Kamel works an average of 20 hours a week at Eagle’s Nest but has seen positive gains from the experience.

“I’m learning a lot about work ethics, working in groups and teamwork so I’m learning ideals plus it’s something to put on my resume,” Kamil said. “Working has impacted my study habits in a positive way.”

Work Experience

In a study conducted by career development, 89 percent of 2014 Biola graduates stated they had work experience before graduation, but the average salary rates of these recent graduates are slightly lower than Biola’s peer institutions. Matthes considers that the rigor or quality of the internships that students have participated in may be a contributing factor.

“There’s something substantive going on with the internships that our students are taking. In other words, it isn’t that students need to do more internships ― 89 percent are doing them,” Matthes said.

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