Students serve coffee, wait tables, attend to customers, give campus tours, assist in offices, conduct research, advise their peers, clean floors, and much more. On-campus, off-campus, earning a wage, earning credit, or taking unpaid internships, most college students work during school. Our project asks: Are they students or workers first? How do they find balance between their many responsibilities? And what happens when they don’t?
While a college degree is increasingly necessary to achieve social mobility, its rising costs mean more students need to seek employment to pay tuition and rent. Yet few entry-level and service jobs offer good wages, security, or positive working conditions, in large part because there is a constant surplus of student workers. Internships and assistantships only sometimes provide the valuable experience they promise. Today’s students are in debt, underpaid, and overworked.
All Worked Up seeks to explore the lives of working college students, the factors that lead them to pursue work while in school, and the conditions of their labor. Our goal is to spark conversations among students, faculty, administrators, and policymakers about the roles and realities of undergraduate labor in U.S. higher education.
It’s time to hear what student workers have to say.
All Worked Up is first and foremost an academic research project that seeks to explore key questions regarding student labor and begins to map out the different factors that have led to the current roles, wages, and conditions of undergraduate labor. Exploratory in nature, this research project will evolve according to developing themes and discoveries.
This online space serves as an exploration of the working student experience and includes short snippets of interviews with current working students, experts in student labor research, and professionals who hire student workers.
Our long-term goal is to create a documentary that pulls together the different factors, themes, and conclusions that come out of our research.