Working During College: Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone?

Daniel Douglas and Paul Attewell. Report prepared for Education and Employment Research Center, Rutgers University. January 2019.


Prior research suggests that undergraduates employed during term time are less likely to graduate. Using transcript data from a large multi-campus university, combined with student earnings data, we find that traditional-age students who worked for pay during college on average earned more after leaving college than similar students who did not work. This post-college earnings premium is on par with the benefit from completing a degree, even after controlling for demographic and academic achievement characteristics, across various student sub-groups, and including models that account for selection bias. We consider the implications of these findings for educational policy.

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