Should you work part-time throughout VCE?

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Many people have asked us in the past whether working part-time during the VCE is a good idea. So what are the pros and cons of working during the VCE? Is it necessary to find work in the VCE to cope with university of future studies? Within this article we will be investigating whether it is a good idea to find work during the VCE will be presenting some of the main arguments for both cases.

A bit of personal experience…

From personal experience, during my VCE in 2004, I did not work. The reason why I chose not to work was that my parents supported me completely. Plus I was too busy focusing on getting a solid ENTER score. Looking back at this experience from 2012, I don’t think that I would work throughout my VCE – even if I could time travel back to this period.

There were many people that disagreed with this idea; one of them was a hairdresser. I went to cut my hair in the middle of July 2004; the hairdresser began to talk to me and asked me about my life. I told I was completing the VCE and she immediately asked me if I have part-time work. I told her that I do not have any part-time work whatsoever because I wanted to focus on getting a good ENTER score to get to university. The lady was shocked; she told me that I will be suffering in the future because I will not have any experience in working. She said I would be struggling financially through university because it is important as a high school student to gain experience in working. The lady almost wanted to talk to my parents and told them that I should be working during the VCE.

Although she was very persuasive, her comments did not encourage me to find work. Personally I believe that getting into a good university course was my complete priority. Besides, to me, being paid $7.50 an hour seemed insignificant compared to the amount of money I would have after finishing a good university course. Not only this, but it seemed a waste of time to work for that amount of money. Now don’t get me wrong, I was not lazy or unmotivated.

The moment I stepped out of my VCE, had a holiday in Poland and the US, relaxed and enjoyed my summer – I decided that I do not want to rely on somebody else for financial support. Instead I began tutoring at age 17 – although I didn’t have tutoring experience, I sat my fees very low at only $15 per hour. Very soon I had built a large clientele of students and had better finances compared to most of my friends working throughout their VCE. To gain experience, I simply lowered my rate and worked very hard to improve as a tutor. Unlike the hairdresser had mentioned, I did not require part-time work during the VCE – in fact merely because I had focused on my VCE studies, I use this to my advantage.

Now I understand that not everybody can be a tutor. Also not every individual is lucky enough to find work instantly without any experience. I recognise that it can be difficult and daunting task to cope with finances particularly if parents are struggling financially themselves. Therefore it makes sense that students feel the pressure of finding part-time work.

The pros and cons of working part-time during VCE


(1) working during the VCE can allow you to gain experience in the workforce

What the hairdresser was saying to me during my hair cut in July was true. Her intentions weren’t bad, she just didn’t realise that not everybody will need to find work at a company. It is true that working in VCE will build up your resume for university years. You are probably more likely to get a manager position and better pay throughout your university degree, if you work throughout the VCE. Also it will show you what the work environment is like, so you are prepared for it in the future.

(2) You will experience of what work is really like

By working for a company, you will see the dynamics of the work environment. This will be important for you in the future, because when you finally find a full-time position it will be easier for you to integrate into the workforce. You will gain experience after working with different types of people and hopefully understand how to be a reliable worker. This will probably help you excel in the workforce.

(3) It will be easier for you to buy a house or rent during your university years

Banks often need to see about two years of consistent work before deciding whether or not you can have an approved loan. Sometimes working throughout the VCE will allow your chances of buying your own house more realistic. This obviously depends on your salary and whether the position is stable enough for the banks to trust you with a loan. Renting will also be more of a possibility if you have stable income throughout your university years.

(4) You will develop a better appreciation for money

If you learn how to deal with your money at a young age, and develop good saving habits working earlier may allow you to develop good financial skills. This is not always the case – since many students simply work to buy themselves clothes and cool gadgets, however working during VCE can be a good time to learn how to deal with money – so that you are more financially smart over your lifetime.

(5) By working you can begin to understand yourself

By going to work you can begin to develop a better understanding of yourself. Work can really define what you want and expect from the workforce – and whether this is how you want to live your life. There are other forms of work you can chose in life including self-employment, freelancing or businesses. By going to work you may understand yourself more and what type of “work” would suit your lifestyle and personality better.

(6) Time off!

If your work  is relaxing and not stressful, it can be a good way to keep your mind off the study and can help keep you sane! Working sometimes helps give students a broader perspective of life – so that they realize that life doesn’t simply end at VCE.


(1) It can take away study time

During the VCE it should be more important to study throughout the year compared to work. Eventually your ATAR score will allow you to enter into a university course. If you spend too much time working, and not enough time studying you may regret this in the future. Plus employers are not always very understanding when it comes to the demands of VCE. If they are not flexible, you may be forced to go to work even when you have something due at school.

(2) Is it really worth the time?
Junior workers are often underpaid significantly for their time. If you paid $7.50 per hour you should put things into perspective. Is one hour of your time, out of your life, worth $7.50? If you knew that you are going to die in one hour would you pay $7.50 to extend your life? In the movie Time, there is a great representation that shows people working for time rather than money. This is exactly what you are doing, the money is simply an exchange for your time. Although I am not encouraging anybody to become lazy – it is important to ask yourself whether your particular work is worth the time.

When doing tutoring in 2005, I knew that being paid $15 per hour is worth the time. Not because I was getting $15, but simply because my work was being helpful to students that were struggling. This gave the work meaning, it wasn’t about the money – it was about the fact that I could help VCE students cope with their subjects.

(3) Some students may stop studying when they have “good money”

When I was at school I had a friend started working from age 14. At age 17, after three years of working she got a 20% raise and was working for more than 14 hours a week. Eventually my friend decided that she doesn’t need to study during the VCE because she has enough money to cope with life.

This can be a trap for VCE students because they get to a stage where they believe they are really making significant money and they become discouraged from studying. Yet what they don’t realise is that continuing studies at university, will probably get them a better quality job after a few years of studying. When you are young it is very easy to fall into this trap – particularly if you other friends do not have much money.

So what is the verdict? Work can be beneficial, given that you grow and benefit from this experience. If you are not stressed out during working and it is not taking away your time from studies, it may be a good idea to have a few hours of work throughout your VCE.