Some Colleges Creating Summer Jobs For Students

By Staff
July 10, 2009

In an effort to assist students with higher education costs, some institutions have created summer positions and then hired their own students to fill them.

USA Today reports that St. John's University in Minnesota created 80 full-time student jobs this summer, including painting dorm rooms and clearing trails. Similarly, the College of Wooster in Ohio hired more than 200 students in its WooCorps program to perform manual labor duties such as planting vegetables and washing windows--three times the number of summer employees usually hired.

"It was clear that a lot of people were going to have a hard time finding summer jobs," said Dan Whalen, the interim president at St. John's. "A lot of our students rely on the income they make in the summer to cover their fees."

Juniata College in Pennsylvania similarly created 30 part-time positions, while Warren Wilson College in North Carolina is hiring about 20 more student employees than usual each week during the summer.

The effort could not come at a better time: Young workers are facing what experts are describing as one of the bleakest summer job markets in history as teens compete with unemployed adults for work. Moreover, tuition has risen at most institutions while student loans and scholarships are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

"There are almost 200 of us on campus for WooCorps," noted Emily Howard, who was quoted in Wooster's The Daily Record about the college's summer job program, "so this was a big undertaking, and I know we all appreciate the financial support that made WooCorps possible, as well as the college staff that is putting in the time to work with us."

WooCorps pays participating students a minimum wage of $7.30 an hour as well as free housing, and free breakfast and lunch from Monday through Friday. Students who return to the college and qualify academically are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship.

Some colleges even hire students throughout the year and benefit financially as a result. The New York Times reports that Rhodes College in Memphis, for example, saves $725,000 a year by employing students in 25 professional staff positions.

But USA Today points out that the summer jobs programs can be expensive for colleges. St. John's is spending $350,000 on the new hires, and Wooster could spend as much as $1 million. Indeed, Michigan's Kalamazoo College cut back on the number of its summer hires this year, citing budget restraints as a factor.

"We are simply not painting as many walls or cutting grass as frequently as in years past," said Jeff Palmer, a spokesman for the college, who was quoted in USA Today.

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