College students are working more than they used to. According to a piece by Laura Perna in Academe:

The share of full-time, traditional-age undergraduates working fewer than twenty hours per week has declined during the past decade (to about 15 percent in 2007), while the number working between twenty and thirty-four hours per week has increased (to about 21 percent in 2007). Today nearly one in ten (8 percent) full-time, traditional-age undergraduates is employed at least thirty-five hours per week.

This is probably not the best development in terms of learning. Most professors and college administrators recommend that students work at regular paying jobs for 10-15 hours a week. That level of work helps students with time management and developing priorities. Students who work more than that have trouble getting all of their schoolwork done.

While an earlier piece about college work got a number of journalists excited because students appeared to be straight-up lazier than in past years, it looks like students may be spending less time on schoolwork and more time on actual work.
It’s a little hard to tell why students are working more. According to the piece:

As College Board policy analyst Sandy Baum argues in a 2010 collection of essays… Understanding the Working College Student: New Research and Its Implications for Policy and Practice, while some of these students are awarded “work” as part of their financial aid package, other students either do not receive work-study funding or find such awards insufficient to cover the costs of attendance.

The importance of this is a little unclear. While it does make sense that students are working more because college is more expensive—and financial aid is not generous enough—the evidence of this is still pretty weak.

But this increasing work certainly doesn’t seem like a good thing for American college students.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer