American students spend more time working than in class, study finds

College students in the United States spend more time working than actually sitting in lecture halls or at the library, a new report shows.

According to HSBC Bank’s new study of educational experiences reported by students and parents in 15 countries and territories, 85 percent of American college students “are working in paid employment while studying.” Ipsos MORI, the market research company that conducted the survey, heard from 1,507 students between the ages of 18 and 34 who are currently enrolled in college, as well as 10,478 parents who have a child 23 years or younger in college.

Asserting that “today’s students face a big challenge balancing work and study,” the HSBC report breaks down how students spend their days. On average, students reported working 4.2 hours per day. In comparison, they spent an average of 2.3 hours each day going to lectures, tutorials, and seminars; 1.5 hours visiting the library; or 2.8 hours studying at home.

Asked why they work while studying, 57 percent of working learners said they had to work out of “financial necessity.” Other benefits cited less frequently included gaining career experience, meeting new people, and fulfilling internship requirements.

“The economics of the debt crisis have become a major distraction to students’ education,” John Hupalo—CEO of Invite Education, a financial planning resource for college hopefuls—told Bloomberg. “Students’ first priority should be to get value out of their education, not squeezing out hours at a job in order to make money to sustain that education.”

A recent report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce further reinforces the challenges of combining working and learning, especially for low-income students.

Bloomberg, HSBC Bank
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