In my day, I worked my way through college
Here's why you can't do that today. The New York Times describes the plight of working students. Even if, according to your chronological age, you aren't an adult, most of our students have adult responsibilities these days.College Costs, Battled a Paycheck at a Time
But students nowadays who try to work their way through college without parental support or loans face a financial challenge of a different order than the one that Ms. Foxx, 69, confronted as a University of North Carolina undergraduate more than 40 years ago. Today, a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State, the largest university in her district, can easily cost $80,000 for a state resident, including tuition, room, board and other costs. Back in her day, the total was about $550 a year. Even with inflation, that would translate to just over $4,000 for each year it takes to earn a degree.
And the paychecks that Mr. Tolmie managed in the big city are only a dream in towns like Boone, where employers have their pick of thousands of Appalachian State undergraduates. Even the most industrious, like Kelsey Manuel, a junior who drives 10 miles each way to a job in a resort where she earns $10 to $11 an hour, often cannot work enough to finish college debt-free.
No one tracks how many students are trying to work their way through without parental assistance or debt, but plenty work long hours while also attending classes full time. As of 2010, some 17 percent of full-time undergraduates of traditional age worked 20 to 34 hours a week, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. About 6 percent worked 35 hours or more.