Balancing the Books: The Impact of University Students’ Outside Employment on Academic Performance and Emotional Well-Being

By Marsha Barber and Julia Levitan.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 10, 2015 $US5.00

This study addresses the perceived impact of university students’ outside employment on academic performance and emotional well-being. A number of studies (Blaga 2012, Wenz and Yu 2012, Torres et al. 2010) have found that university students who work to support their studies achieve lower grades and experience more stress. Students at a Canadian university were given anonymous surveys which yielded information on whether they worked, what kind of work they did, and hours a week devoted to that work. They were also asked qualitative questions about their ability to balance their work and their studies, and their beliefs about the impact of outside work on their academic achievement and well-being. The findings suggest that the majority of students, given the choice, would not choose to do outside work. The majority of students believe that such work negatively affects their ability to excel at their academic work. The majority also mentioned stress as an important associated factor. However, a minority of students believe there are advantages to working during the semester, including learning how to manage time and developing a strong work ethic. The study will be of interest to psychologists, counsellors, academics and others who work with students within a post-secondary setting.

Keywords: Learners, Higher Education, Academic Achievement, Student Employment, Student Well-Being

The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 21, Issue 3-4, February 2015, pp.13-19. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 10, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 775.175KB)).

Prof. Marsha Barber

Professor, School of Journalism, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Professor Barber's recent research includes studies of gender representations in the media, and how the television networks cover elections. She has also published in the area of pedagogy and is interested in research which enhances post-secondary teaching. In addition, Professor Barber trains journalists internationally and in Canada and both her work as a journalist and involvement in journalism training have informed her research. She can be reached at

Julia Levitan

Honours Psychology Student, Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada