Tech scholarship recipients sometimes find that their prizes come with a cost: from writing “thank you” notes to maintaining a certain GPA, the expectations are pretty standard.
However, between full-time study and bills to pay, some students find themselves in a bind with the academic service scholarship, which requires them to serve 75 hours per semester to a designated campus facility.
Whether the terms of the academic service scholarship are fair is debated among students. Many students defended scholarship hours.
The jobs would have to be filled by paid workers otherwise, and since the university is providing the money, they get to set the terms. Students can decide whether or not they accept the terms when they accept the scholarship.
Additionally, filling the jobs with scholarship workers saves the university money, which may aid in keeping the price of tuition down.
“It incentivizes college in a way that normal scholarships do not,” said Briley Johnson, a computer science major.
Furthermore, facility supervisors insist on the importance of positions students fill.
“Scholarship workers are critical to the function of the fitness center. Their jobs benefit the fitness center and benefit the students themselves. We provide a real work experience with responsibilities, expectations and requirements just like a non-campus job would,” said Misti Ray, Daytime Supervisor of the fitness center.
On the other hand, the current system has several issues that scholarship recipients have to mitigate for themselves. Student schedules tend to be packed with classes, study, clubs and work, so scholarship hours can further complicate work-life balance.
“I don’t get paid by ITS until after 75 hours are completed. This means that I pretty much take one month of no pay because I cannot work extra to make up the difference.” Jacob Sweeten, computer science.
As a result, students have to take second jobs and plan ahead to stretch their money at the beginning of the semester.
Another issue regarding these jobs is usefulness. Student-workers report doing homework on the job because there isn’t anything else to do, and productivity drops when studying at work. The result is detrimental to student grades in exchange for no benefit toward campus facilities.
A few solutions were proposed, including an increased cap on weekly and monthly hours, the option to allocate hours to scholarship or straight pay, or creating a system for club officers to be eligible for scholarship hours.
“Running a club efficiently requires a lot of effort, and that effort should be fairly compensated,” said Sam McGuire, a computer science major.
Clubs on campus aid students in their academic and career goals in ways campus facilities often can’t, compelling students to go beyond what is expected in class. Officers involved in organizing and inspiring members do so out of passion or obligation and gain only résumé fodder for their hours of work.
University support for club officers could give scholarship recipients more meaningful work and facilitate positive community growth.