There have always been differing opinions on whether college freshmen should work while they attend school. One view is that college courses are going to be much harder than what a teenager has experienced before. For that reason, most every spare moment will need to be spent on studying in order to achieve acceptable grades.
While the adjustment is hard on most freshmen students in the beginning, it is another contention that after settling into college life, students are not going to spend all their time studying whether they work or not. Learning the responsibility of work builds character and a work ethic, and both are necessary for successful survival at the next level of existence.
Some parents also feel that working provides students with the opportunity to earn their own income for spending (and hopefully saving, too). Many parents are struggling enough just to manage tuition, books, and other college costs. So a part time job to cover some of the expense provides some relief for the parents.
Although there is validity to both “schools” of thought, a great more has to do with the child than the preconceived notions of the parents. Some freshmen hold down jobs and still do well in school, and some even enjoy working part time. But not every student will perform the same way; there are many factors involved that are specific to each student.
The first semester of college is the most important, and if it is not an extreme financial hardship, it is usually better that a freshman doesn’t work. Being new to school and needing to study more is much of a job in itself. Depending on how well the child does with those first classes, working some for spending money might be something to do after freshman year.
Some fields of study are more demanding than others, and some students take on more credit hour load than others do. If things get really hard really fast, some students will simply give up and decide it’s easier to go home than to try to make a go of higher education. Sometimes postponing work until at least second semester may make a real difference in whether a student performs well enough during their first attempt at college classes.
After putting out a large amount of money to enroll a student in college, it is much better to give all the support necessary so that your student is not one of those who never sees a 4th year in college, possibly not even a 2nd or 3rd. Even if a child is old enough to make their own decisions, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still under the parents’ care in many regards.
Working while attending college does build character, but it should not be a preventative in a student receiving their education. Every student is different, and the first weeks at college may require some adjustments so that your child acclimates and focuses on the primary reason why they are there: to receive an education. If work can fit into the mix and not disrupt studies, then work/study is a positive combination.