You get into class at eight in the morning and sit in your usual spot near the rear of the room. Looking at the clock, there is exactly ten more minutes until the professor begins to discuss the assignment that you somehow completed last night after you got off your shift. This is an example of what many college students face every day. College is expensive, and in order for many students to make ends meet, they work. Having a job or two, or even three is not all that uncommon to hear. These students have many responsibilities that are not always recognized by the schools that they attend.
Many professors do not take into consideration that working students are deserving of extensions on assignments, tardy excuses and empathy in general. The odds have always been against the student. To add insult to injury, instead of understanding the student’s position, professors will punish the student – twenty percent off for being tardy, not accepting assignments that are completed and being yelled at for “interrupting class.” It comes as no surprise that students in these situations have hard feelings toward not only their professor, but also the school in general for the treatment they receive for trying to get by. This raises an important question; will students ever be given the benefit of the doubt? It is not entirely clear.
One possible solution could be professors and students having a better understanding of each other. Being upfront and telling your professor your schedule is your best bet. Having open communication is key to building that understanding. Additionally, this can help with other areas like grading and tips. Who knows, if we continue to voice our concerns, we might eventually have written policies aiding students who balance work and school.
Students also face similar situations at work. Employers often find it difficult to be flexible due to needed workers and being dependent on those schedules. Employers are dealing with profits and sales; it might be more beneficial for employers to understand student schedules, but it is not common. If you can’t be relied on, you are a goner.
We find ourselves faced with a difficult question to answer; will students have to choose between having enough money to survive or attending school? Many students work in industries preparing them for their future careers. It’s even more stressful that many career paths are interested in seeing a skill set already developed when students enter into the workforce. The question remains unanswered, however, recognizing this pattern may help facilitate future conversations about students balancing work and school.