Does Part-Time Work Damage College GPAs? Surprising Answer Here

Part 3 of a 3-Part Series

Your college-age daughter calls you, sobbing, at 10:00 pm. She’s feeling overwhelmed by exams and paper deadlines, and she’s begging you to let her quit the part-time job she’s been working while taking her full load of college classes.

You want her to be happy, of course—plus you worry that the time she’s spending at her job might be bringing her grades down.

Do you tell her to go ahead and quit? The answer below just might surprise you.

I quit

Here are 5 reasons you might want to encourage your college-age daughter to keep that part-time job.

1. Students who work part-time tend to get higher grades than those who don’t.

I’ve seen this in my consulting work at over and over again. Students who work a job for 15-20 hours a week during the academic year tend to have stronger GPAs than those who don’t.

Why is this?

I believe that it’s because the students who work are forced to become better planners. They have to use a calendar. If they don’t, they’ll miss a work shift and experience an immediate negative reaction from a work supervisor.

2. Students who work part-time tend to feel happier and more engaged with campus life.

A study reported by Inside Higher Ed shows that students who work 20 hours or less a week on campus tend to score high on five different measures of engagement, including “student-faculty interaction” and “engaging in active and collaborative learning.” When you’re paying a lot for a college education, that’s worth more than money.

3. The overwhelmed student’s root problem probably isn’t actually “a lack of time.”

The work schedule is likely not actually the problem. Students tend to feel stressed and overwhelmed when their organizational systems fall apart. (Or were never put in place to begin with.) The first step to correct overwhelm is not to quickly open up vast swaths of time in the schedule — it’s to sit down in a quiet place, make a list of everything that needs to be done, and then schedule that work in on a calendar. Many students who sit down and plan this way find that they immediately feel better. No need to quit a job.

For more help on this subject, see the helpful article I’ve written here.

4. Work provides students with far more value than just a paycheck. 

An article by Amy Laskowski of Boston University quotes student Melissa Cottrell, who says: “The busier I am, the more focused I become. Working really makes you more structured; you have a lot of things to do in a short amount of time, so it’s important to keep up with it all.”

This College Board article also supports the claim that part-time work has value beyond the paycheck: “Studies show that students who work are more confident and possess better time-management skills than students who are not employed,” the article says. A part-time job can provide independence, satisfaction, and a sense of responsibility, plus valuable work experience.

5. A huge percentage of college students work part-time, so we have evidence that it can be done.

Working more than 20 hours a week is not recommended for college students, but nearly half of all full-time students and 80 percent of part-time students work at least part-time. Your child can too.

For clear, step-by-step help getting your kids through college debt-free and into jobs they love afterward, it takes only 7 hours to read my book:

Get 10-minute, fast-paced video instruction on how to use this book most efficiently at

You can see more than 100 reviews of it on Amazon at:

(Tell your friends.)

You can see why financial advising professionals love LAUNCHhere.

You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCHhere.

Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.

And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.

Take a step on this right now. Get regular, inspiring help from me—every Monday morning.

Subscribe to my free weekly email newsletter here.

Do you have specific questions for me about debt-free college and career for your kids?

It’s my members that get most direct access to me. Doors to my membership open each year for just 5 days in March, and 5 days in September. Space is limited. Join the Waiting List here.

Do you have friends who are parenting kids ages 18–22?

SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin right now.

What about you?

What experience does your son or daughter have with working part-time during college? What advice does he or she have for others? Comment below or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.

Who is Jeannie Burlowski?

Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26 and their parents and grandparents. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazineand US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

Jeannie also helps students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school at her website You can follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

2 thoughts on “Does Part-Time Work Damage College GPAs? Surprising Answer Here

  1. I’ve always thought this was true. My son does much better in school being on an athletic team and having an intense schedule of practices and games. Much like a part time job.

    • Tara, this is so true! I think he’s succeeding not just because he is forced to manage his time well – – I think he’s succeeding also because he’s building great confidence as a human being. Way to go as a mom!

Comments are closed.