Why Colleges Like Students with Work Experience

by | May 19, 2024

by Allen Grove for ToughtCo

It can be tempting to wonder how someone who works 15 hours a week at the local department store can measure up to someone who stars on the varsity soccer team or took a leading role in the school’s annual theater production. Colleges do, of course, want to enroll athletes, actors, and musicians. But they also want to enroll students who have been good employees. The admissions staff wants to admit a group of students with diverse interests and backgrounds, and work experience is one piece of that equation.

Even if your work isn’t in any way academic or intellectually challenging, it has a lot of value. Here’s why your job looks good on your college application:

    • High school students who successfully hold down a job for a significant period of time have proven that they can manage their time effectively. It’s not easy to do well in school while devoting significant hours to work, and effective time management is one of the most important skills that will lead to college success.
    • Students who have jobs have learned to work as part of a team. You can’t be selfish as an employee, for success depends upon working well with your colleagues. These collaborative skills translate directly to college success: you’ll be well prepared to negotiate issues with your roommate, work on group projects, and recognize how your own actions impact others.
    • If you’re working to save money for college, you’ll be highly invested (literally) in your college education. The fact that your hard-earned dollars are going towards your education tells the admissions folks that you are fully committed to your education. College isn’t a gift that has been handed to you; rather, it is something that you have worked hard to make happen. That kind of commitment has real value for the college in terms of retention rates, graduation rates, and overall student success.
    • Even a miserable job flipping burgers or washing dishes has value on your application. You’ve learned to be responsible, to serve others before yourself, and to make sacrifices to meet your long-term goals. Work experience and maturity tend to go hand-in-hand.
    • Finally, you have a perspective that many college applicants lack. You have experienced first-hand the type of work that millions of people do without a college degree. So unless you were lucky enough to get an intellectually challenging job as a high school student, you’ll have additional motivation to succeed in college and move on to work that is more personally satisfying.


Questions? Let’s chat!

Bettina Weil

Weil College Advising, LLC


Weil College Advising

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