David Dulberg
September 2018

Average Student Spends More Time at Work Than in Classroom

You are an average college student and you spend just over two hours a day in a classroom. Also, as an average college student, you spend four hours each day, twice as much, at work. The reason you are a working student and not just a studying student? According to The Value of Education, Price of Success, it’s due to  gaps between family resources and college costs.

Students on average spend nearly $100,000 to complete their degrees. Families contribute just over $17,000 leaving a gap of over $82,000. To help cover the difference, more than four of five students work.

This is not due to a lack of effort on the part of families. Though parents may not have saved as much as they wanted for their children’s educations, they are willing to sacrifice.

According to the study:

  • 62 percent reduced or stopped leisure activities
  • 47 percent took fewer vacations
  • 43 percent forfeited personal time or gave up hobbies
  • 39 percent worked extra hours or took a second job

But, even with the extra effort, the gap persists. Unfortunately this means that students must work. In fact, working takes up more of a student’s day than any other single activity.

How an average student spends an average day:

  • 4.2 hours working
  • 2.8 hours studying at home
  • 2.5 hours on social media
  • 2.3 hours going to lectures
  • 2.3 hours texting/messaging/emailing
  • 2.2 hours streaming media
  • 2.0 hours socializing
  • 1.5 hours visiting the library

What can be done about all of this? Unfortunately, the most effective tip won’t help those already in college. Most parents, 59 percent, worried that they don’t have the resources to support their children’s educations. The study suggests parents start planning as early as possible to begin saving, seeking professional financial planning advice to make more informed decisions.

In addition, the study advises instilling good financial habits in their children. Families should take advantage of any budgeting tool and calculators available online. Parents also need to be realistic about the total cost of college, and that tuition, though extremely high, is less than half what a student spends at college.

Though current students see a generation of students that went before them heavily weighed down by student loan debt, in some ways, there’s only so much they can do. If they want to go to college, they are going to have to work while they are in college, and then, unless something changes, spend years working to pay down their student loan debt.


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David Dulberg

David Dulberg lives with his wife in the coastal hills above a narrow creek, mid-canopy in a redwood forest. He has been writing for non-profits for many years, and volunteers as a pilot on the Baum Squad, a tandem bike riding program for the Earle Baum Center for the Blind. He does not have a pet. This does not make him a bad person.

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