Can You Work Part-Time and Get a Degree?

By Jai Jatta

NHS identification card

When people hear part-time work alongside a full-time university course, most respond “How? I could never!” with the assumption that it would be a distraction. But for a student not so financially well off like myself, finding part-time work in my final year of university post-pandemic has been a game-changer in the best way possible.

Students who work part-time, either to cover costs and/or achieve greater financial stability tend to be left out of the conversation, despite accounting for a significant portion of the student body. This is not intended as the sob story of a broke student, but to motivate those who may be put off from finding jobs or a side hustle to accompany their studies due to fear of not being able to balance both. But if you’re anything like me it can be beneficial to the quality of your student life in many ways!

Firstly, in regards to my overall physical and mental health, it has had an extremely positive impact. I feel more productive outside of my studies and obviously, have much more peace of mind having a consistent income alongside my loan. We can all agree that student loan doesn’t entirely cover the rising costs of living away from home, but now instead of scraping by, I’m actually able to spend money on enjoying myself. Having extra money in my pocket to spend on both necessities (i.e., bills, rent and food) as well as luxuries (i.e., social outings and hobbies) has improved my general health greatly. Now I’m able to fully throw myself into uni life without a financial barrier!

Also, being able to balance work with other commitments is an important life skill and I’ve been able to develop this first hand. Surprisingly for some, I’m able to manage my time better and deadlines no longer creep up on me as I now plan my time around work and university: rather than have what feels like forever to complete assignments just to face the daunting procrastination of assignments. I am much more at ease now and really understand the importance of starting any task early enough to focus on it without unnecessary stress, which allows time for myself and other commitments.

Surround yourself with students in similar situations to avoid feeling alone because it’s likely more people share your struggles than you think! (If you choose to work, some of your colleagues may be able to relate). Importantly, look into other forms of funding that apply to your personal and financial circumstances, for example, the University of Kent has a financial package given in instalments throughout your studies that doesn’t need to be repaid.

Boy sat on a beach

Most importantly, do not let your financial situation make you feel unworthy or hold you back – coming from someone who has personally struggled with these feelings. The reality is everyone deserves a chance to invest in themselves and enjoy university regardless of your financial background and you can make the most out of your situation!

Anyone reading this who can relate to my situation I advise you to try working (whether it be part-time or a side grind) but make sure it works for you, around your schedule and definitely do not overwork yourself! There are a number of roles available through the campus job shop, businesses around Canterbury or temporary work agencies so all you need to do is get yourself out there!