Working in college: an exploratory study of undergraduate student employment characteristics and behaviors
The employment of college students is an important issue for higher education since the impact of working during the academic year is not clear. The current literature base shows conflicting findings about the impact of employment on academic success and engagement mainly because research results vary depending on the type of work, the location of employment, number of hours worked, and the time management skills of the individual students. Investigating the characteristics of full-time undergraduate students at The University of Alabama holding paid positions of employment during the fall 2009 semester is the focus of this study. The survey instrument for this study was designed utilizing variables common with the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) and variables targeted to gather information about the impact of employment on academic engagement, social experiences and overall student well-being. Findings were compared to the national data from the 2008 NPSAS to explore similarities between national trends and The University of Alabama full-time undergraduate students. Additionally, the motivation for working during the academic year and the impact of this work is explored. A descriptive and comparative analysis of the data was used to answer the eight research questions guiding this study. Findings and conclusions are presented along with recommendations for policy, practice and future research.