Living off pizza and no sleep: Students work impossible hours to make ends meet

Photo by Eleya Raim
Mackenzie Young prepares for a delivery working at Pizza Hut. Photo by Eleya Raim

by Abby Musser – Horizon Co-Editor-in-Chief

How in the world will I pay for school?

With the ballooning costs of college this question is getting harder for students to answer. And it’s a question sophomore Irenea Soetjoadi is living everyday.

Soetjoadi, an international student, receives a little help from family but not enough to fully cover everything. She takes 17 credit hours and has three different campus jobs. She cleans Charles Hall, tutors students in Biblical Literature and works as a Writing Fellow.

Despite the workload, Soetjoadi has found a way to balance school and work.

“I like the cleaning jobs because the time is flexible, so I just do the cleaning job after my classes are done,” says Soetjoadi. “And for the tutoring and the writing fellow if I don’t have anyone (to help) I can just study and do homework.”

Soetjoadi’s struggle is becoming typical. In the past students relied on family for financial support but a growing number of students are working while attending school. Some students have to get multiple jobs to help pay for an education.

Soetjoadi has found herself sacrificing sleep in order to keep up in school, sometimes staying up till 2 or 3 in the morning.

“I cannot balance my sleep time,” she said. “I get 4-5 hours of sleep.”

Other Hesston students balance multiple jobs and school.

Freshman Mackenzie Young has two jobs and works a total of 35 hours per week. Financially, she’s on her own. Her parents, both teachers, don’t make enough to support Young’s three siblings along with her schooling. Young makes every school payment herself.

“Every little penny I make counts,” she said.

In addition to cleaning the Larks Nest and delivering for Pizza Hut, Young’s taking 16 credit hours. Young goes to work before and after a full day of classes, not getting back until late evening. That leaves little time for studying, and for sleep.

“I mean, by the time I get home it’s usually 9:30 or 10 and I have 4 or 5 hours of homework so it’s really hard to get to bed before 2,” she said. So I usually get 5-6 hours a night. So yeah, it’s definitely really hard and it’s really stressful.”

Young’s late days mean she’s “pretty much living off pizza.” Hesston’s cafeteria opens right after she leaves for work and closes long before she gets home.

“That’s really hard because I don’t have money to go buy food.”

You have to ask, is the sacrifice worth it? Young says yes, and no. She’s looking at transfer options.

“I believe the education I’m receiving here at Hesston is probably one of the best,” Young said. “But I cannot afford it in the long run.”


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