69% of the Kalamazoo College (private “liberal arts” College) full time students have a job. That is the result that we found with my partner, Dylan P. Buckley thanks to a survey that we conducted on this small campus (around 1800 students) in Michigan. This result is very high and as interesting as the other results that we found and that I am going to develop in this article.
We conducted a survey with as main topic “student’s employment” by sending 366 emails selected at random among the names of all K College students. We obtained 85 answers. It means that 23% of the persons to whom we sent the email answered the survey and that we obtained the answers of almost 5% of the population of K College.
We can wonder if the results that we obtained are trustable. To answer this question, we need to know if they are representative of the population of the campus. The answer that I can give is that they are mostly representative with however some damper. We therefore obtained heterogeneous results for most variables concerning for example the ethnicity, the income of the parents, the major of students. But the main problem is that we only have 27% of boys who answered our survey.
The topic of our survey was as I mentioned it before “student’s employment”. To be more precise, we sent this survey to know the number of students employed on this campus, why they are working, how many ours are they working per week, their feeling concerning the impact of their job on their studies… We wanted to discover if there is a relation between student employment and the fact of having parents that help for tuition and other expenses, the amount of scholarship that a student receive, his background… We basically wanted to know if there is a reason that influences students to work. We wanted to know what having a job led to for a student.
We first calculated percentages and averages to have a basic idea of the results that we collected for every question. All of the students that we surveyed are full time students, which means that no one is first a worker and secondly a student. The majority of the students (69%) is employed and the students with a job work on average 15 hours and 30 minutes per week. It’s a very high number. It means that students work on average a little bit more of 2 hours per day for their job. But the values are highly dispersed, which means that the mean is not a good indicator because some students work a lot more than 15 hours and some other work a lot less than 15 hours. This spread out show that there is no typical amount of time worked per week for the students at K College. The students are on average paid 7.54 dollars per hour and there is no big spread out. It means that students who have a job at K College earn the minimum wage (7.40 dollars per hour) or a little bit more. 93% of the students work on campus. It means that K College proposes a lot of jobs and pays their students with minimum wage. This result is very interesting because you can find results very different on Internet saying that most of the students in College work off-campus. It probably means that Kalamazoo College is an exception by proposing so many jobs. For example, a lot of international students are employed during the year they spent at K because they can be TA (Teaching Assistant) and give between four and seven hours of classes per week to teach to students their native language and to support the work done in class with the professor. We obtained a very big percentage (90%) saying that job has no effect on student’s studies. It means that is spite of the big amount of time worked by some students, the majority of them don’t think that it is going to have a bad influence on their studies. On average, students receive 21,279 dollars per year of scholarship, which means half of the tuition (42,000 dollars per year). It means that they still have to pay the other half, either thanks to their parents, or thanks to their job. But again here for this question, the average is a result that we have to use carefully because the spread out is very high. It means that some students receive scholarships that cover almost all the tuition while other students receive almost nothing as scholarships. We can however use this results to say that students need money to pay a part of their tuition and we want to know if they are going to use their job to pay the missing part of their tuition or not. We obtain a part of this answer thanks to the next question. 73% of the parents help their children to pay the tuition. It means that most of the parents take care of the price of College for their children. We can imagine that the 27% left concern students who receive already a big scholarship and don’t need any help from their parents. Even if it’s a big percentage, only 59% of the parents help their children to pay other expenses while they are in College. It means that the 41 other percent are probably going to work to finance their other expenses. That was one of our hypotheses. Students at K College who answered our survey work on average 4 hours per day on their schoolwork. It means that they spend a lot of time working everyday on their homework but we can already say that maybe they can work on their homework while they are at their job place. Second, we can say that we asked an estimation of the average per day that the students work on homework. It means that if they work a lot during the weekend but do nothing the other days of the week, our results are unable to show that. Most of the students are indeed able to work during their job but only a little bit. Only 7% are able to do all their homework while they are working and almost 30% are not able to do any homework at their job place. The average of the students is 20 years old and the dispersion is not very high, which means that the persons who answered our survey were as a majority young College students. Students are indeed in College between 17-18 to 22-23 years old. 27% of the students who answered our survey are juniors, 31% are sophomore, 24% are juniors and only 15% are seniors. Our responders are mostly freshmen and sophomores. Concerning what the responders are studying, we obtained very heterogeneous results: for example 22% are studying sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry), 9% are studying economics and business, 12% psychology, 9% anthropology and sociology… 78% of the students that answered our survey live on campus. It means two things: first, our population is young because when students are junior and seniors, they have to live off-campus. Second, it means that our next results concerning students’ expenses are biased. Indeed, we are not going to find big results concerning expenses in rent and utilities because we don’t have a lot of students concerned by these expenses. Students who answered our survey spend mostly money for food, and books. The result concerning rent and utilities is not as higher as we expected because as said before, most of the students don’t have to spend money for this. When their parents help them, students are mostly helped for these expenses: food, books. Concerning the background of our students, it’s relatively homogeneous concerning the ethnicity and the marital status of their parents, but it is not concerning the income of their family. Indeed, 83% of the students are white and only 8% are blacks. 72% of the responders have their parents married. But concerning the income of the family, 34% have an income inferior to 50,000 dollars per year, 26% between $50,000 and $80,000, 27% between $80,000 and $125,000, 18% between $125,000 and $200,000 and only 5% have an income superior to $200,000. It’s interesting because it means that we are studying from different background and probably with different needs.
To summarize this analysis, it’s interesting to have a summary table for some important variables:
Question | Average |
On average how many / hours per week did you work last month? | 15.50 |
If you are paid hourly how much do you make in dollars per hour? | 7.54 |
How much do you receive / in total scholarships per year? | 21279.34 |
On average how many hours per DAY do you work / on schoolwork outside of class? | 3.94 |
What is your age? | 19.81 |
Question | % Of YES | % Of NO |
Are you a full time student? | 100% | 0% |
Are you employed? | 69% | 31% |
Do you feel that your job has a negative effect on your studies? | 10% | 90% |
Do your parents help / pay your tuition? | 73% | 27% |
Do your parents help you pay for other, non-tuition expenses? | 59% | 41% |
Question | On | Off |
Are you employed on or off campus? | 93% | 7% |
Do you live on or off campus? | 78% | 22% |
Question | % |
What is your parent’s marital status? | |
Married | 72% |
Divorced | 25% |
Other | 4% |
Question | Response | % |
What is the income of your family? | ||
Less than $50,000 | 20 | 24% |
Between $50,000 and $80,000 | 22 | 26% |
Between $80,000 and $125,000 | 23 | 27% |
Between $125,000 and $200,000 | 15 | 18% |
More than $200,000 | 4 | 5% |
Total | 84 | 100% |
Question | |
If you / know what your major is/will be what is it? | Total answers: 92 |
Sciences (math, physics, biology) | 22% |
English studies | 4% |
Economics/Business | 9% |
Political Sciences | 7% |
Sociology/Anthropology | 9% |
Spanish | 7% |
History | 4% |
Psychology | 12% |
Undeclared | 4% |
Other | 23% |
Total | 100% |
Then, my partner and I studied the correlations between the different variables. It means that we tried to know if there is a relation between two variables, if this relation is intense or not. We expected a lot of correlations. We thought that we would find that the more a student work, the less his parents help him to pay his tuition or other expenses. We expected that a student is more likely to work when the amount of scholarship that he receives is small. We expected that students work less on their homework when they have a job. We thought that students would be tempted to work more if their parents are divorced, if the income of the family is low. We were sure to find that students are more likely to work when they live off-campus. We thought that the older a student is, the more likely he is to have a job. All these correlations seemed to be logic. Indeed, if student’s parents are poor, separated, can’t help their child to pay tuition and other expenses, we thought that it would influence the student to find a job. But we were obviously wrong because we didn’t find this kind of correlation. So, we can legitimately wonder what does it mean. It means maybe that the persons that we surveyed are not representative of the reality. But I think that we can dispel this hypothesis. Indeed, we demonstrated before that except for the gender, our sample is very heterogeneous. What I can say, it’s that it probably means that our students are maybe very different concerning their background, their scholarship, but finally they probably receive globally a similar amount of money per year to pay their expenses. It means for instance that a student from a poor background receives probably a big amount of scholarship. In the other hand, a student with a very big income receives maybe a scholarship that doesn’t cover the tuition but it’s not a problem for him or her because his/her parents pay the tuition, help for the other expenses. I think that it’s a good explanation. The only thing that this survey doesn’t allow me to demonstrate and that is probably true is the following thing: students who are juniors or seniors and live off-campus have more expenses to cover and are probably more likely to have a job than other students. But, as said before, we don’t have enough data concerning these categories so we are not able to explain how do they pay their rent/utilities.
We found however to big correlations that seem logic and that I can explain: the first one tells us that a student is more likely to earn more than the minimum wage if he or she works off campus. This correlation seems realistic. Students can’t earn more than the minimum wage at K College but it’s very easy to earn 10 dollars per hour off campus.
The second correlation that we found confirmed what I said previously. If there is no relation between being employed and the student situation, there is however a correlation between the amount of scholarship and the help of parents for tuition: the more scholarship a student receives, the less likely his parents are to help to pay the tuition. It means that parents assume the payment of tuition when the scholarship doesn’t cover the tuition amount. To conclude, what we can say is that students to pay their tuition or important needs at K College do not use jobs here. Student’s parents pay for these expenses. The money that students earn is probably used as pocket money. That is the reason why the background of students doesn’t influence the fact that they work or not.
The next step of our work was to find confidence intervals. This measurement is something is used to indicate the reliability of an estimate. Thanks to these results we found that some of our results have a low reliability and should be taken carefully. We have for instance a low reliability for the variable “are you employed”. It means that the percentage of students employed on our campus is maybe lower or maybe higher. We also have low reliability for the variables “hours per week worked, the amount of scholarships received per year, help from parents for tuition or other expenses, the year at K College that students are, the gender of students and the parent’s marital status”. It means that our study could be more precise. We should have obtained more results to have a higher reliability. Our results are actually probably close to the reality because even if I speak about low reliability, we didn’t find so large intervals. But because I’m very rigorous, I prefer tell the readers that we could have been more precise.
However, for some other variables, our confidence intervals are very short and we can be sure that what we found is representative about the reality at K College. It’s the case for example for the variables “be employed on or off campus, the money earned per hour, the amount of schoolwork done out of class”.
Thanks to these results we can say that even if our survey could have been more precise for some variables, it’s generally trustable and probably representative of the reality at K College.
Then, we tested our hypothesis. It means that we tried to know if our results are statistically significant. We compare our findings to other comparable findings of other surveys found online. For example, we found that 93% of K College students are employed on campus while the department of education found that 85% of students are employed off campus. With our calculations we are able to reject the hypothesis that K College students employed on campus is different of 93%. It means maybe that “K” College offer statistically more student employment per number of students at the school, or maybe that the “K Bubble” keeps students from getting off campus jobs.
The second hypothesis that we tested is the following one: we found that 69% of K College students are employed while the “Indiana project on academic success” found that 80% of the students in College were working in 2000. We can reject the hypothesis that student’s employment is different from 69%. This means that “K” college has a lower student employment rate than the rest of the country.
We found that students earn in average 7.54 dollars per hour. According to an online survey, working college students earn roughly $7.50 per hour. With our calculations, we can say that that “K” students earn as little as students throughout the country.
If according to our survey, 69% of K College students are employed, we found on an online survey that for a population of 8485 4-year College students, 42.7% are employed. This means that our data and that found in this other study do not agree.
We found the same conclusion concerning the following comparison: according to an online survey, only 15% of employed students are employed on campus. We found that 93% of employed students are employed on campus are K College.
We compared French youth employment rate and the employment rate here at “K” with an online survey. These statistics are not perfectly comparable because one statistic is students and one is just youth in general this is the best statistic we could find and we were curious to see how comparable the two employment rates are. We found that 69% of K College students are employed while this survey found that 78% of French youth are employed. We can once again say that our data and that found in this other study do not agree. But we have to be realistic: these percentages should be more different if we would have been able to find statistics concerning student’s jobs in France. Indeed, we would have found a lower percentage because on average, French students are very few to be employed while they are working. Very few universities propose jobs for their students in France. Besides, work is not as flexible as in the USA, which means that it’s very hard for a student to find a work off campus.
The last step of our study was to calculate multiple regressions. It means that we tried to find the relationship between a scalar variable y and one or more explanatory variables denoted X.
We first tried to find about what the number of hours worked depends. We found that this amount of hours worked has nothing to do with the amount of scholarships received per year. We found that the more a student’s parents help them, the more they work. It means that students don’t work to finance their most important needs.
When we analyzed the amount of scholarships received by a student as a scalar variable, we found interesting results that we didn’t expect. We found that the larger the scholarship a student receives the more likely their parents are to help them. There is no correlation between scholarship amount and employment, and a negative correlation with number of hours worked. It sounds logic because the more scholarship a student has the more their parents also give them, therefore they have less need to work.
To conclude, I can say that the survey that I conducted with Dylan was very interesting because I learned more about K College students’ practices concerning jobs. These practices are very different from France and it would have been very interesting to make a comparison between K College and a university in France. That’s actually what we wanted to do but we didn’t receive the authorization from the French university to collect data.
We found that K College students mostly have a job that allows them to have pocket money but not to pay important needs. We also found that K College students are very different from other College students around the US concerning employment.
I hope that this survey can be useful for you reader to know more about this topic or for professionals as employers to know the situation of student’s employment at Kalamazoo. However, the reading of this survey should be completed with the reading of another similar survey concerning the other university at Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University.
By Mathieu Bouvard
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