Is Being a Student an Occupation?: Being a student is often viewed as a transitional period – a time when someone is preparing for their future career or occupation. However, some argue that being a student should be considered an occupation in itself. Students have responsibilities, and work obligations, and contribute to society’s collective knowledge, similar to those in traditional occupations. Looking at the definition of an occupation, the demands placed on students, and the value they provide can make a strong case for students being in an occupational role.
Is Being a Student an Occupation?
Being a student is often seen as a transitional period – a time before one enters the “real world” and joins the workforce. However, the role of a student has changed over the years, becoming increasingly complex and demanding. Though not traditionally viewed as an occupation in the formal sense, there is a strong argument that being a student today is akin to having a full-time job.
The question of whether being a student can be considered an occupation stems from the increasing responsibilities and workloads that students now face. In the past, the role of a student-focused almost exclusively on attending classes and completing assignments. While this is still a core part of the student experience, modern students juggle a variety of other responsibilities on a daily basis.
Key Responsibilities of a Modern Student
Today’s students are expected to balance a full course load with extracurricular activities, part-time work, internships, research projects, and more. The learning process extends far beyond the classroom walls. Here are some of the key responsibilities and tasks modern students must fulfil:
- Attending Classes and Labs: This remains the foundation of the student experience. Students must successfully pass their required courses by attending lectures, labs, seminars, and more. Classes can amount to 20-30 hours per week.
- Studying and Homework: For every hour spent in class, students are expected to complete 2-3 hours of independent study and homework. Studying requires focus, time management, comprehension, and discipline.
- Group Projects and Presentations: Many classes now incorporate collaborative group assignments and presentations as significant portions of the grade. Students must coordinate with others and uphold their roles.
- Research and Writing: Term papers, essays, reports, and other writing assignments are frequently assigned. Students must utilize research skills, writing skills, and critical thinking to produce high-quality work.
- Internships: Internships are now almost a necessity for students. Juggling an internship with classes adds another major time commitment and set of responsibilities to the student’s schedule.
- Extracurricular Activities: Students are encouraged if not expected to participate in on-campus extracurricular activities, from sports teams to student government to cultural organizations. These require additional time and effort.
- Part-Time Employment: The rising costs of education have led many students to work part-time jobs during school to afford tuition and expenses. This adds more responsibilities to the student workload.
- Independent Research: Science, engineering, and humanities students frequently take on independent research projects under the guidance of a professor. These projects develop skills but require substantial time investments from students.
This wide range of academic, extracurricular, professional, and financial responsibilities make the life of a modern student extremely demanding. It amounts to a full-time occupation.
A Full-Time Time Commitment
Being a student equates to a full-time job when you consider the combined amount of time devoted to classes, assignments, projects, employment, and more.
- Students spend 20-30 hours per week in class.
- For every hour in class, they spend 2-3 hours on studying and homework. That’s an additional 40-60 hours per week.
- Part-time student jobs require 10-15 hours per week for those who work.
- Add on extracurricular activities at 10-15 hours per week.
- Assignments, research, internships, and other responsibilities take up another 10-15 hours per week at a minimum.
All told, the modern student workload amounts to 60 hours per week or more – equivalent to a full-time professional occupation. Unlike a typical 9-to-5 job, this workload is spread across nights and weekends, but it adds up to a full-time commitment nonetheless.
Developing Professional Skills
In addition to the heavy workload, being a student requires developing a skillset similar to many professional occupations. Successful students exhibit skills such as:
- Time management – Handling competing tasks, meeting deadlines, and prioritizing responsibilities.
- Self-discipline – Motivating oneself, concentrating for long periods, avoiding distractions.
- Interpersonal communication – Collaborating in groups, making presentations, and corresponding with professors.
- Comprehension – Grasping complex concepts from lectures and textbooks.
- Research abilities – Finding relevant information and sources efficiently. Analyzing and integrating research into writing.
- Technical literacy – Utilizing technology for communication, collaboration, assignments, and research.
- Problem-solving – Tackling difficult assignments and challenges that require analysis, creative thinking, and determination.
Mastering this wide range of professional skills is a core component of being a successful student in the modern higher education landscape. Developing these skills prepares students for future occupations, but the process of honing them throughout one’s student career demands significant time and effort.
A Period of Professional Training
Given the heavy workload and the emphasis on developing professional skills and experiences, being a student takes on the nature of occupational training.
In many ways, the time spent as a student serves as an extended internship or apprenticeship – a period devoted to preparing for future employment and cultivating skills for a career. Like an internship, students gain hands-on experience with essential hard and soft skills, learn to manage their workload, meet expectations, and deliver results.
The student experience lays the necessary groundwork that allows people to transition into professional occupations. Viewed through this lens, being a student is the training required to qualify for and succeed in a future career.
Key Takeaways: Is Being a Student an Occupation?
- Modern students face a heavy workload between classes, assignments, projects, activities, and employment. This amounts to a 60+ hour per week time commitment.
- Being a successful student requires developing key professional skills like time management, self-discipline, communication, comprehension, research skills, and problem-solving.
- The student experience serves as a type of professional training and preparation for future occupations.
- Though not traditionally considered an occupation, the demands placed on students today are akin to having a full-time job.
So while being a student is not formally classified as an occupation, the argument can certainly be made that the duties, time requirements, and skill development involved make it equivalent to a professional position. Given the work and dedication it requires, being a student truly is a full-time job.