It is customary in many European countries that the students of higher education study and work simultaneously. That is also the case in Estonia which is among Europe’s leading countries by the number of its students having also a full-time job. This study researches, how it is possible to dedicate oneself to two such time-consuming activities and how do these affect each other.
The study reveals that the main motivators for students having also a full-time job are their personal development and the success they hope to achieve when competing on the labour market due to gained work experience. Economical reasons are rather connected to their wish for independence and certain life standard than overall managing.
Working full time has a more negative effect on studies than vice versa. When forced to choose, the students dedicate their time rather on work than on studies as they feel more is excused in the universities. Often, the academics have to spend extra time on the working students, time that at least partially comes at the expense of other students and development. The resources for education are not fully used by the students, and they often have stress and personal problems that come when pressured by the lack of time. However, students can also make use of their skills and knowledge at work, and they can use some of their work experience in their studies.
Combining studies and working should be encouraged, though situation where most of Estonian students do both full-time should be avoided. That could be achieved when the state raises students’ awareness that their studies are being paid by other tax-payers, a system to ascertain the economical situation of students is developed and corresponding grants offered.
Universities and academics could allow the students to have some introduction to their specialty subjects already during the first semester, offer more e-courses, and find ways to integrate students’ work experience and studies. More appreciation should be given on the academics’ role. The employees should clarify their expectations to university graduates as well as create more opportunities for working part-time or with a more flexible schedule. As for the students themselves, they should pay more attention to analyzing the skills and knowledge they acquire with higher education studies, and better ways to “sell” these to the employers.