Teachers College, Columbia University

The Academic Consequences of Employment for Students Enrolled in Community College

By Mina Dadgar

Community college students increasingly combine studying with paid employment, but there is little evidence on the academic consequences of students' term-time employment.

Using an administrative dataset from Washington State that combines students' transcripts with earning records from the Unemployment Insurance system, this study relies on two causal strategies to understand the academic effects of student employment: first, an individual fixed effects strategy that takes advantage of the quarterly nature of the data to control for unobserved and time-invariant differences among students, and second, an instrumental variable difference-in-differences framework that takes advantage of the fact that there is growth in retail jobs during the winter holidays.

The study compares academic outcomes for students who were more or less likely to work in retail based on pre-enrollment association with retail jobs. The findings suggest there are no large negative effects for small increases in employment for community college students.