How appropriate for today and for the future are the policies and practices of higher education that largely assume a rm of traditional-age students with minimal on-campus, or , work commitments? Despite the fact that work is a fundamental part of life for nearly half of all undergraduate students - with a substantial number of 'traditional' dependent undergraduates in employment, and working independent undergraduates averaging 34.5 hours per week - little attention has been given to how working influences the integration and engagement experiences of students who work, especially those who work full-time, or how the benefits and costs of working differ between traditional age-students and adult students. The high, and increasing, prevalence and intensity of working among both dependent and independent students raises a number of important questions for public policymakers, college administrators, faculty, academic advisors, students services and financial aid staff, and institutional and educational researchers, including: Why do so many college students work so many hours? What are the characteristics of undergraduates who work? What are the implications of working for students' educational experiences and outcomes? And, how can public and institutional policymakers promote the educational success of undergraduate students who work? This book offers the most complete and comprehensive conceptualization of the 'working college student' available. It provides a multi-faceted picture of the characteristics, experiences, and challenges of working college students and a more complete understanding of the heterogeneity underlying the label 'undergraduates who work' and the implications of working for undergraduate students' educational experiences and outcomes.
Laura W. Perna is an associate professor of higher education the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her current scholarship focuses on understanding the ways that public and institutional policies enable and restrict college access and success especially for students from underrepresented minority groups and from low socioeconomic backgrounds.