How might “paying your own way” influence your college experience?
A study published earlier this year found that college students who covered a substantial share of their educational expenses—either through taking student loans, or working a part-time job—actually earned higher grades than those whose parents assumed a greater share of their college costs.
This was surprising news. For years, it had been assumed that students who did not have to worry about paying for college generally earned better grades, as they were more able to focus on academics.
However, a brand-new study paints a more nuanced picture of undergrads who borrow to pay for college. The study, by graduate students at Indiana University, identifies two distinct types of college-student borrowers, and it contrasts both with a typical “non-borrowing” student. Among borrowers, the two types of students it identified were . . .
- “serious students”—those who were focused on schoolwork and paying jobs (if applicable) but engaged in relatively few extracurricular and social activities; and
- “disengaged students”—those who consumed a substantial amount of media (TV shows, movies, music, etc.) but spent relatively little time on schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
Among non-borrowers, the most common type was “play-hard students”—those who spent a substantial portion of their time on extracurricular and social activities but still spent enough time on schoolwork “to get by.”
What should you take away from all of this? There seems to be a “cost” to borrowing—specifically, students who borrowed engaged in fewer extracurricular activities. However, given that the two most common “paths” of student borrowers differed so greatly, it doesn’t seem as if borrowing is the sole determinant of what one’s college experience will be like.
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