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Working Student

In: English and Literature

Submitted By juret
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These deeply American themes are present in all the eras of student employment.

The Colonial Period

Admission to the professions (law, medicine, ministry, teaching) had traditionally been via lengthy apprenticeships in which the training was employment, albeit at steadily increasing levels of responsibility. Universities added a classroom component, but because of transportation difficulties and geographic isolation of the period, much training was still in the form of apprenticeships or on the job training .

While apprentices were supported financially by their masters during the period of apprenticeship, universities had no such arrangement. Universities even expected the student to pay them. But the quality of education, the opportunity to be exposed to a wider community of scholars, the desire to emulate Europe, the increasing population and improving transportation all worked toward the rise of universities. They attracted young men of ambition but not always of means.

In the earliest cases, these students often just hired themselves out. Many well-to-do families sought private tutors, particularly for daughters. Lawyers hired clerks. The jobs provided welcome extra money, and less need to be dependent on family.

But many students either arrived at the university without means, or illness or other factors interrupted the support of the family. In these cases, faculty at the university often became involved. Small jobs, such as maintenance or agriculture were provided, usually at the intercession of a concerned faculty member.

As the need and number of students grew, and the advantages to the institution became apparent, the programs became formalized. All of our early private colleges, led by Harvard, Yale and Princeton, subscribed to the belief that lack of financial resources should not constitute an insurmountable barrier to an...

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