Can You Have a Job While You’re in the Honors College?

by Ben Kissam

The Honors College at Azusa Pacific University is composed of hard-working students of all backgrounds and professional interests. Those in the program are dedicated to excellence and want to make a lasting impact on the world.

But the program requires hard work. After all, it requires double majoring! So any student who enrolls knows they’ll have to put in a lot of time and effort if they want to succeed.

Naturally, this raises a few questions. Many often wonder about the balance and if it’s possible to have a job while in the program—or if their time will be consumed by challenging coursework.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the Honors College at APU.

What Is the Honors College?

Each year, a select group of highly qualified students is given the opportunity to hone leadership skills, deepen their faith, and cultivate moral and intellectual virtue through APU’s Honors College. The goal of the program is to prepare students to make a difference in the world by equipping them with in-demand leadership skills, such as persuasive writing and public speaking, all through a Christ-centered lens.

Gaining acceptance waives the 62-credit General Education graduation requirement. Instead, students double major in honors humanities and their other desired major. (There’s also a minor for transfer students.)

Graduates of this program have gone on to become leaders in the fields of business, medicine, law, and ministry; others have chosen to pursue a master’s degree or Ph.D. All hope to make a difference through their work.

“While the Honors courses are academically challenging and engaging, it’s a different kind of learning,” said Reilly Fitzpatrick ‘20. “Personally, I thrive in an environment where I can read books, discuss important ideas, and synthesize my thoughts in writing—and that’s just what Honors provides.”

Can You Work While in the Program?

Yes, you can! The coursework might be rigorous, but many students are still able to earn money while completing the program.

“I would tell a student struggling with these decisions first that it’s possible and that you won’t be sacrificing every second of your life to academics or your job,” said Fitzpatrick, who balanced two on-campus jobs and multiple leadership positions while in the Honors program.

The key is to find a job that works for you and your schedule. If possible, getting an on-campus job comes with obvious benefits, like a shorter commute and the potential to work in your department. However, off-campus work is possible, too, and can come with its own benefits, like finding a job within your prospective field and giving you a broader scope of experience.

André Villeneuve, Ph.D., assistant professor in APU's Honors College, urges students to "set reasonable boundaries; don't try to do more than is humanly possible; and pray for the wisdom of choosing the right work/study/life balance. Do your best, accept your limitations with serenity, and remind yourself that perfection is not of this world."

Keep in mind that students accepted into the program receive a $1,000/year scholarship and an average $19,000 per year in financial aid. However, you should still be sure to fill out the FAFSA and apply for scholarships. Money you don’t have to earn is just as good as money earned!

What Skills Are Needed?

The Honors College at APU focuses on helping students become worthy leaders by growing in virtue and seeking wisdom. It’s a rigorous program—especially for students who balance their schoolwork with a part-time job—but it instills within students a strong work ethic and many marketable skills.

Students who enroll in the double major program while working will need to hone abilities such as:

  • Strong time-management and organization: From getting to class to being on time for your shift, being organized and efficient with your time is essential for success.
  • Good communication: Staying on top of your commitments starts with good communication—with bosses, professors, and classmates. Being proactive about your schedule can go a long way if you need to swap a shift, take a day off, or arrange a study session. Be sure to keep in touch.
  • Active self-care: Burning the candle at both ends is, at best, a temporary success strategy. Without rest, it will be difficult to complete the in-depth intellectual work that this program requires. (It’s worth noting that assignment deadlines never fall on Sundays in the program, which gives you at least one full day per week to worship, rest, and reflect.)

It’s completely possible to maintain employment while pursuing a degree through APU’s Honors College. Many students have done it. In fact, the program has a 97 percent retention rate, which means you’re likely to succeed, too!

It’ll take commitment, a passion for learning, and attention to detail on your part. But the payoff beyond college will be well worth it.

Curious to learn more about this unique offering at Azusa Pacific University? Contact the Honors College and apply today.