OPINION: Full-time students are doing enough


Leah Boone, Associate Opinion Editor

As students get older, responsibilities seem to grow both in and out of the classroom setting. There is an assumption that when a student is old enough to drive, they should have a part-time job after school and on the weekends. The anxiety of high school and college students is already extreme and pressure to be employed often sends students into a downward spiral. Full-time students must be taken more seriously and affirmed for their hard work and dedication.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 74% of part-time college students and 40% of full-time students were employed in 2020. The average cost of an in-state university in the United States has increased immensely in the 21st century. In 2020, the average cost of tuition and fees was $9,349 per semester, whereas in 2005 it was $5,351. With this increase in price comes an amplified amount of difficulty with students paying their own way through college. It used to be a somewhat reasonable expectation, but with such a drastic increase, it is unfeasible now. 

App State requires 44 hours of general education courses alongside the majority of majors requiring 120 total semester hours. A student must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester in order to be considered a full-time student, and the average is 15 hours per semester. This value does not include all the time spent outside of class studying and doing homework, nor does it include any extracurricular activities a student may be involved in. Overall, being a college student is essentially a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. job. Expecting students to be able to cope with this much time dedicated to school on top of being employed is entirely too much.

Over 60% of college students have a mental illness of some sort and campus psychological services are already overwhelmed. With App State denying students any wellness days throughout the semester to focus on mental health and restoration, many students are consistently overloaded and anxious due to coursework. Creating a negative stigma around remaining unemployed during this time period only increases the mental health crisis. 

Low-income students are at an extreme disadvantage with this increase in tuition and fees, and many have no choice but to work while attending college. Less than 10% of low-income students attend more competitive four-year institutions. Most students who fall into this category attend two-year institutions. According to a recent study, a C was the grade average for 59% of low-income students who worked over 15 hours weekly, most likely due to being stretched entirely too thin. Furthermore, higher-income students more often have jobs that have to do with their future career, whereas low-income students take the jobs they can get to make ends meet. This disparity is exceedingly unreasonable; college is stressful enough as is and should not be made more difficult for students who are in lower income categories.

Being a full-time student has been belittled for far too long, when in reality college classes and extracurricular activities are all a lot of students can handle while staying healthy. The inequality when it comes to low-income students versus high-income students is inexcusable, and college must be made accessible to everyone. Not only that, but being a student must be taken more seriously.