Education or employment?

The term is over halfway over. Summer registration has begun and some classes are already filled. There’s a table in the Park Blocks looking for student employees for summer. So which one do you chose: a summer job or summer classes? Or is it possible to do both?

I’m personally struggling with the choice between a summer internship and taking summer courses. If my application gets accepted, the internship would want me to work three days per week, 9 a.m.–6 p.m., beginning mid-June and going through mid-September. On the other hand, I would love to finish my Spanish requirements. If hired, I would ideally be able to do both. But is it responsible of me to ask to come in around 11 a.m. for the first four weeks of a three-month internship?

A common conflict students come up against with any four-year college is finding the money to pay for school. The way schools schedule classes can make it impossible to graduate in four years, meaning more money out of your pocket. Portland State offers a four-year degree guarantee, but not every student knows what he or she wants to major in when they come to school. Students often change their degree multiple times, making it difficult to graduate in four years. Summer classes can be helpful when trying to graduate early.

The world language courses are scheduled as follows for the summer: 101 and 201 (not all languages offer 200-level courses for summer) are offered June 22–July 12; 102 and 202 are offered July 13– Aug. 2; and 103 and 203 are offered Aug. 3rd–Aug. 23. The way I see it, there’s a pro and a con to this way of scheduling. The pro: in one summer you can finish what would normally take three terms. The con: you only have one choice of when to take the class in terms of dates. For instance, you can’t take Spanish 201 in August, only June.

Taking summer classes means finishing school sooner than the approximated time it might take if you only took classes during the rest of the year. You can finish a full course load in just two months. PSU offers more summer courses than any other school in Oregon, and College Choice rated PSU one of the 50 best colleges in America for summer school. But are enough courses being offered at convenient times to make it worth choosing a full course load rather than a summer job?

A summer job means hands-on experience. Something to put on a resume that shows one has an understanding about life outside of a classroom. This is something employers look for when hiring recent graduates, although the chance to finish school early by taking summer classes is always appealing.

Traditionally, the expected hours at a summer job aren’t flexible because it’s such a short amount of time, making it hard to juggle both a job and classes. A part-time internship often expects between 20 and 25 hours per week. Summer courses are typically 2 to 2.5 hours per day for six to eight weeks. If the class you’re trying to take is from 1 p.m. to 3:40 p.m., that seems pretty inconsiderate to your employer to ask for a few hours off in the middle of the day.

Creating a balance between school, work and a social life is hard enough. Making the choice between one and the other is even trickier. If you don’t get the job you are hoping for, it can make your decision easy. And taking summer classes is a great way to earn your degree faster and get ahead in the field you want to work in. But if you do decide to apply for a job and you get it, passing that up doesn’t seem like a good career choice either.