Ideally, college students use summer break for a breath of fresh air. Away from the academics and stress of school, the pause from action is needed for many. But realistically, most students work full time, instead.

Working full time requires long hours, filled with mindless tasks only to receive minimum wage and coming home to unwind from a hectic shift. Then, maybe even, getting ready to go to a second job. The struggle at home is balancing a social life and trying to make some extra spending money for when you move back to school in the fall. 

Now, going to school full time is very similar, but there is a little more understanding to having a crazy schedule and stretching yourself thin. Professors and advisors understand you’re a student first, and academics are your top priority. But, responsibility lands on your shoulders if you are manning clubs and extracurriculars.

Here are the four major differences I realized this summer between being a full-time worker versus being a full-time student.

Required Uniform

The company polo and khaki shorts are out of style! The multiple loads of laundry a week to keep the uniform clean and professional for all of the customers is gone, and casual campus wear is back in. Of course, some events might require a little bit of dressing up and effort. But, nothing will ever replace the iconic ponytail and company t-shirt look.

A Revival of a Social Life

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your co-workers. Depending on how many jobs you balanced over the summer [for example, I had three over the break!], time for friends and family might have been scarce. From the moment you step on campus, you are surrounded by young adults all around the same age. Being productive with your friends is ideal, with coffee dates and study sessions at the library. 

A Lack of Cash

This is probably the worst part of returning back to being a full-time student. Money gets stretched thin and every dollar counts toward the end of the semester. On the other hand, though, the summer is filled with spontaneous ice cream trips and purchases because of the biweekly paychecks and extra tip money in your pocket.

Home Cooked Meals Are Rare

Living at home and working over the summer has its benefits, like having dinner ready when you get home after a long day. A meal on the table is always nice, but that disappears once you’re back on your own as a one-man-band. Dining halls and microwave meals in your dorm are the main entrees.

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