We all face the question of whether we’ll work or study. Whether it’s finishing school and deciding to work or go to college; finishing university and deciding to further our education or join the world of employment. Even when we are employed, we may consider going back to college. No matter what stage in your life you’re at, it can be a daunting experience. With that in mind, let’s discuss the differences between work v study.
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Work v Study
The below table highlights the differences between working v study.
|Hours for work v study||Usually set hours||University hours plus study and assignment time|
|Pay rates for work v study||Paid||Unpaid, may receive grant|
|Cost for work v study||Cost of commuting, work clothes||Pay for course yourself, employer may also fund it|
|Duration for work v study||Casual. fixed term or permanent contract||Average 1 – 4 years|
|Time commitments for work v study||Part time or full time||Part time or full time, study is self-directed|
|Long-term benefit of work v study||Develop experience and competence||Aids future career choices and development|
|Location of work v study||Onsite or remote||On campus or remote|
As you can see from above, there are countless considerations to ponder when evaluating how work or study differ. Much of it boils down to the type and length of work or course you’re in or considering in addition to personal circumstances. Read on to see what factors will impact on the difference between work and study. I assure you there will be hidden factors below that won’t have even crossed your mind!
In a survey of 1000 workers, 49% stated that they would favor a hybrid model of working from home and the office. 26% prefer to work remote and 25% prefer to work in the office full time. Source
Hours for work v study
Most employment contracts have a set number of hours they require you to work each week. This could equate to a 9 – 5 job, fixed or flexible hours. Overtime may be a part of the role, be it paid or unpaid.
You can also get annualized hours contracts too.
With study, there will be classes, lectures, tutorials and labs that you’ll need to attend. These hours are usually set, unless you can watch recordings of the lectures.
Additionally, there will be requirements for assignments and projects to be completed. The number of hours you spend on assignments and study will depend on your pace and how committed to the course you are.
If it’s a group assignment, you may be at the mercy of your team and how much they contribute.
With study, you can complete this at any time that suits you and your schedule. So, you might find a few hours in the evening after work or on weekends
Time commitments for work v study
Generally, you’re looking at an average of 20 a week for part-time work or study and around 40 hours a week for full time work or study.
With work, you’re usually required to be onsite and clock in and out. If you work remotely, there is less visibility regarding how much work you are completing
As I mentioned in the previous section, how much time you commit to study will be somewhat based on how much time you want to commit.
Time committed will also depend on if you want to achieve a pass or distinction. You may also decide not to attend all the lectures or tutorials which will reduce your hours further.
Tip: Working fewer hours or days onsite or on campus means you can spend less on food and coffees.
Pay rates for work v study
The primary attraction and need for people to work is to earn money. With study, you’re usually not paid, unless you’re funded by a grant, scholarship or some form of paid apprenticeship.
If you’re leaving employment to return to college, this lack of income may have a significant impact on your choice compared to someone who finished a degree and is going on to further education.
Going back to college may also mean a less frivolous lifestyle unless you have banked up some savings to keep you going.
You could also consider completing the course part-time while holding onto a full or even part-time job.
Working from home full time can save you as much as $12,000 per year or $6,000 working on a hybrid model.
Cost for work or study
Commuting will usually account for a sizeable proportion of the costs associated with working or studying. When travelling to the office or college, you’ll have to pay for the cost of fuel, car maintenance, parking or travel tickets.
Your role in work may warrant you to wear professional clothing and possibly certain outfits for special events or meetings. All of these will usually be a cost you bear yourself.
With a course, most people have to pay for this themselves. You may be fortunate enough to have an employer who will support or fully fund the course for you.
Plus, if there is stationary, lab supplies or additional resources required for studying, you’ll need to pay for these too.
Tip: Commuting just 1 less day a week could save approximately $900 a year!
Duration for work and study
Most people will work until they have to retire or can afford to retire. That said, nowadays, a job isn’t really for life. People change between jobs and companies much more frequently.
So, if you don’t enjoy a job, you can move on if you wish.
Plus, sabbaticals, more annual leave and career breaks are much more common nowadays which means you can take a break if you need to.
With a course, a full-time undergraduate course or phD can last anywhere from 1 – 4 years. A masters can range between 1 – 3 years, depending on if it’s part-time or full-time.
If you don’t like the course, you can either suffer on and finish it, pause it or quit it altogether.
Once the course is completed, you’re free to join the world of employment or perhaps delve further into the further education spectrum.
Long-term benefit of work over study
Working in roles allows you to develop experience and competence. There may be opportunities to attend training courses as part of the role.
If your employer is open to moving people around the company, you may be able to take on a role in a completely different department. This would give you more experience in a different area which is always favored when climbing the ladder.
Plus, if you’re in your current role for a long time, a change in role may just be what you need to stimulate yourself.
You’ll also have more opportunities to network with people in the company if future career development is an opportunity.
Studying grants you qualifications that may be essential to securing a particular job, e.g., web development, qualified person in a regulated factory.
Having a degree also means you can apply for higher roles which have a higher salary attached to them.
Depending on how related the course content is to your role, you’ll also gain valuable knowledge which you can use in your existing or new role.
If you’re coming out of college with no experience, it may be difficult to secure employment, especially compared to a person with years of experience.
If there is a shortage of people with that qualifications, if you have contacts or previously worked in a company, that can certainly help.
However, considering the current demand for workers is at peak levels, this shouldn’t be a concern.
Location of work v study
Whether it’s working or studying, it may involve commuting if you need to travel to site or campus.
If you work for a company that’s nearby, who provides ample parking or is near the route of public transport, then getting to work shouldn’t be too difficult.
That is, provided you don’t have to get multiple buses or travel for hours to get there…
The same applies to universities. However, from previous years of college, I know that parking can be a nightmare. Often, you’d have to be in before 8am to get a parking spot regardless of what time your lectures started.
On the other hand, you may be fortunate enough to be a remote worker or studier.
The biggest advantage to working from home or studying remotely is the lack of a commute. When in the office, you may have to travel long distances including sitting in traffic.
The average commute time in the US is 52.2 minutes a day. Often, it’s a much lengthier commute of up to a few hours for some people!
With working or studying from home, you may not have a good desk setup with office equipment.
After a few hours of sitting uninterrupted, be prepared to feel the need to get out from your desk.
A good tip is to take a walk at your lunch time or consider a standing desk such as the Bush Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk.
Alternatively, you could take it one step (no pun intended) further by using a treadmill desk such as the Sunny treadpad slim under desk treadmill 20740!
The reality is that there are both pros and cons to working and studying. For many, study will only consume a few months or years of their life before they are finished with it.
Fortunately, a job isn’t for life anymore and if you want to move role or company altogether, that’s a possibility for most!
If you would like to further enhance your knowledge on the array of working models, I have written some articles that are without a doubt worth a look. Some of them I guarantee you’ve probably never even heard of!
Here are some other useful articles I wrote that you should go check out:
- Is Weekend Work Worth It? + Does It Pay Better?
- The Truth About Working In An Office
- Is Full Time Work Hard? – 10 Factors To Consider!
- Annualized Hours Explained – Helpful Tips & How It Works!
- How Unlimited Holidays Work – An Insider Guide + FAQs!