The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri


The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri


The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri


Supporting yourself

College is an investment, and maintaining an income as a student is a difficult, but wise choice

There are different tiers of the work on the college totem poll. ​Education and work are core activities in the transition from childhood to adulthood. Some students never have a support system and work because they have to support themselves and put themselves through college. Many start off with a support system, but move off to college and have to work. Others, still rely on their support system and get an early start with working. 

“Me, Myself, and I get me through most days… I wouldn’t say it’s awful because it’s definitely a very important ability to have, but it’s hard seeing people my age doing stuff I want to do. I have to keep reminding myself that it is a sacrifice I have to make.

— Kaylee Payne, 20-year old, full-time college student at the University of Central Missouri.

 Haylie Burton, an 18-year-old in high school, works at a local Mexican restaurant. Burton lives now with her parents and is working to get ready to pay for college.   

  “I wanted a job because I felt like I had nothing better to do with my time and I think it builds character,” Burton said.

 As a high school student, Burton is living with her parents not having to pay for rent or food. She says she isn’t required to work and her money goes to her daily wants and for her college savings. 

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  Many graduate high school and go off to college to have some of the best years of their lives making new friends and new experiences. Then again there is an unearthed untold story about those other few that don’t get that same college experience. 

  Young adulthood brings on many challenges, goals and reasons to work. There are plenty of college age people working and supporting themselves because they need to. 

  There are those who have to claw their way up to that end goal, which is a degree. They have to scrape together every penny and support themselves through the whole process. They miss out on key features of college which are socializing, making connections and interpersonal relationships.

  Kaylee Payne, a full-time college student at the University of Central Missouri, said she supports herself through college all on her own. Payne is also a full time employee at a local Mexican restaurant as a manager. 

  She believes she misses out on experiences people her age get to have. She also said her end goal is through all of this hard work and dedication, is to secure the job that she has always wanted and finally being able to relax. 

  Most days she believes she does most things on her own. She said she attributes getting herself to where she is now to only herself.

  “Me, myself, and I get me through most days…” Payne said. “I wouldn’t say it’s awful because it’s definitely a very important ability to have, but it’s hard seeing people my age doing stuff I want to do. I have to keep reminding myself that it is a sacrifice I have to make.” 

  While she strives to be optimistic about her situation, she said she is relieved that she has grown as a person and overcomes the struggles. In the same way, she said she sacrifices to be able to maintain her lifestyle. 

  “Not being able to relax and just breathe sometimes, I feel like I am constantly going. I have never been able to pick up any hobbies I am interested in or make any new friends or socialize,” Payne said. 

  She said she believes not being able to just breathe can be a struggle of feeling constantly suffocated by work and school. Payne certainly does have a lot of drive and ambition. 

  Young adults who are attached to these activities, particularly if they are connected for several years, will build a work history that contributes to future employability and higher wages, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau.

  Payne has a clear goal in mind and has been sticking to it for three years while constantly balancing work, school, and living on her own. 

  “When I have successfully secured a job in my career choice and doing the things I want to do. I also know that I have achieved my goals because then I’m able to relax,” Payne said. 

  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in July 2023, 55 percent of young people (persons ages 16 to 24) were employed. This measure was little changed from 55.3 percent in July 2022.   

  Alex Diaz is a 21-year-old senior at UCM. Diaz has been going to UCM for two years now after transferring from State Fair Community College. He is studying computer science and wishes to design software and video games after he graduates. 

  Diaz is also a manager at a local Mexican restaurant. Much like Payne, Diaz focuses on work while being a student and lives on his own and has to pay for his education.

  “I work to pay living expenses, school, debt, and things that I want,” Diaz said.

  Currently, Diaz also supports himself. But, that doesn’t mean it was always like that. 

  “I wouldn’t say that I have always had to work, but ever since I turned 16, I wanted to – so I could buy things that I want,” Diaz said.

  Working full time and going to school full time can have a lot of impact on social life and free time. Diaz said he strives to connect his time at his workplace with his ability to make friends.

  “My social life is honestly better because I have friends at work. When I first started working here my grades did go down a bit but I got the hang of it and now I’m in the groove,” Diaz said. 

  Diaz is very optimistic about working, the people he has met, and his support system. 

  “My support system is my family back home, and I don’t receive much support per say but they have told me if I need anything they’ll be right there to help,” Diaz said. 

  There are many different reasons why college age students work and have to work. Many have to take on jobs during college in order to meet their financial obligations, which can contribute to greater stress and take time away from their school work. But no matter what the reason is, when we’re all at work we are all working towards an end goal whether that be graduating college and finding another better job or getting through college or even getting to go to college. When it really comes down to it, most of us will get to where we want to be not because of a support system, but by doing it ourselves. 

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