The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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The Effects of Taking Longer to Graduate as a Working Student

Chart Courtesy of the National Center for Education Statistics

With the large amount of work juggling a job and college can be, some students decide to take college at a slower pace to alleviate stress. 


Bucks Student Daulton Parry is one such student. Parry says, “I took a break after my first semester. I was not prepared to deal with work and school simultaneously.”


Parry further states, “The main reason I choose to be part-time is because I can earn money for whatever I want to do currently but also I did not work hard in high school, so I needed to take classes at the pace I wanted.”


Bucks Economics Professor Lawrence Sorace said that taking longer to graduate can delay your career, but can also “defray some explicit costs.” 


Sorace says, “Two years at a potentially higher salary would be a cost of graduating later. An example would be working part-time, taking longer [to graduate], and making $20,000 a year while getting your degree. However, by graduating earlier you could’ve started at $50,000 working full-time. The explicit costs [loss] of those two years at a lower salary could be $50,000 to $100,000.” 


“On the other hand, if you graduate earlier by not taking a part-time job and taking on more schoolwork, it might be harder to find a job. The reason being that, even though you have the degree, you have no work experience,” Sorace continues. reports that on average, working students take on around one less credit per semester than students who do not have a job. 


Sorace detailed the costs of graduating earlier, “There can also be implicit costs to trying to graduate earlier. This could be in the form of more stress, less free time, less friendships, and less socializing Taking longer may be less stressful, give you more free time, and allow for more socialization experience and networking.”


Justin Ayala, an 18-year-old computer hardware major, who has been 50-50 on deciding whether or not he should delay his graduation said, “I think you should take your time and do what you can because rushing the process [graduation] adds more stress.” 


Health science major, Tristen K recalls how stressful it is for her to be a college student and work at the same time. She says, “I have to admit I lose motivation for school when I realize the time I dedicate to school I could be at work earning money. Sometimes studying feels unproductive when I could be at work picking up extra shifts. I’m a pharmacy technician and the pharmacy is always busy, I could always be helping out my colleagues at work and patients.”


“The irony is how expensive school is, even with financial aid, a major portion of my paychecks for work go to school. I’ve had urges to quit school and work full time but I’m still here trying, so hopefully, I keep that positive mindset to get through it,” K adds.


According to NBC News, only about 45 percent of college students graduate within four years and the amount of college students who finish their degree within six years is not much better. Less than two-thirds of college students are able to complete their degree within six years.


Sorace reassures students that the length it takes you to graduate does not matter. He states, “As someone who ran their own business, it would not bother me a bit if somebody had just graduated at 22, 24, or 25, It’s not a race. All things being equal, I might even be more inclined to hire the person who worked while getting their degree.”


“My advice to students working their way through college: Keep going. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. The only way to lose this game [college] is to quit. You’re not in competition with anyone but yourself. Do the best you can. In the end, your diploma will say the same thing as someone who graduated in four years,” Sorace further adds.


K mentions how working has helped her in college. She says, “I learn so much as a health science major working in a pharmacy. Not even just helping patients, but learning about drug interactions and effects on the body, it helps me remember things will benefit me in my field. Even my anatomy class felt easier since I knew so much from my pharmacy tech experience.”


If you need any help with your academic progress or juggling work and school, you can make an appointment with a Bucks counselor by emailing [email protected].