Students weigh career against economy
During these tough economic times, students are finding it hard to balance classes, bills, the increase in tuition and, for some, a family. Adding a job into the mix is also now common for students.
Business management sophomore Jamie Albanese works full time and even with student loans, is only able to take a few classes per semester.
“Unless you have a full ride to school, it is almost impossible to go to school full time and live on your own,” Albanese said.
Students without complete scholarships or their parents’ help must look for other ways to pay for school — including dipping into previously untouched savings.
“I try to work in the summer to get money for tuition, but it is getting harder and harder to keep up. I find my savings account rapidly declining,” architecture junior Austin Lopata said.
Others, like economics major Heriberto Fernandez, have taken on a second job to help pay for school.
“Right now, I have two jobs, so every time a book is like $200 it hurts,” Fernandez said. “You feel it more than you did five years ago.”
The economic downturn affects students in more ways than just their bank accounts. Students have looked to the job market to determine their studies and ultimately, their futures.
“(The economic climate) is part of the reason I chose chemical engineering,” sophomore John George said. “I feel that it is one of those fields where I won’t have as much trouble finding a job. Plus, it’s one of the highest-paying engineering jobs.”
Some students have decided to continue their education by either adding a second major or going to graduate school.
Senior Phill Stout chose to major in both English, with a concentration on linguistics, and Chinese, the latter of which he chose in part because of the lack of jobs graduates have had to face.
“I decided a few years ago to pursue a knowledge base that was wholly untapped by most Americans,” Stout said. “I don’t feel as if the current economy will affect my future employment, but I know many students in different majors who will disagree with me.”
Psychology senior Larissa Gonzalez has already decided on graduate school rather than attempt to find a job in the current economic situation.
“I’m definitely going to grad school for the added security and because a Bachelor’s degree might not mean much in this economy,” Gonzalez said.
It took Elizabeth Crabtree, a 2008 UH alumna, a few months to find a job where she could use her degree but seven months after she did, the hotel started to lay off people. She pursued a full-time job in cosmetics at Macy’s.
Students working their way through school, as Crabtree once did, eventually face the question of whether or not to take a semester off in order to catch up on finances. Some do not have a choice.
When dance junior Mallory Horn was laid off from her restaurant job, she chose to take a full-time position with another company and a sabbatical from school.
“I tried to balance full-time hours at work when they gave me an ultimatum, but my grades began to slip,” Horn said. “So I decided to take a semester off (of school) and save money for next semester.”
Horn is not alone. Even with financial aid, some students who work still need to take out extra loans to help defray the costs of school or contemplate a semester off.
Accounting junior Nadia Rubio previously qualified for only partial financial aid, which forced her to take out extra loans each semester. This semester, she received full financial aid but still had to take out a loan to help cover extra costs such as books. Rubio is wary of taking out any extra loans in the future, which may pose a problem for her projected graduation date of May 2011.
“Tuition has gone up so they need to increase financial aid. I don’t know if I can take out a second loan next semester,” she said.
Students like junior Rodrigo Mendoza work not just to pay for school, but to help out at home too.
“My parents used to work a lot of overtime, but they got their hours cut,” Mendoza said.
When parents are being affected and can no longer help out, students must help themselves. However, even with jobs, getting the money for school is still an uphill battle.
Chemistry sophomore John Grobe who had to take last semester off, explains the trickle-down effects that the economy has had on him and possibly many other students.
“I don’t think that everyone realizes that our current economic crisis really affects everyone on many different levels,” Grobe said. “Fewer people have money to spend these days. This affects the number of customers that eat out. It also affects how often they eat out, which in turn affects how much money I make as a waiter.”