Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Debra Mullen. Lincoln, NE: May, 2016

Copyright © 2016 Ryan M. Patterson


This thesis focuses on the experiences of college students who are balancing the multiple responsibilities of a full-time student while concurrently being employed 20 hours or more a week. Literature related to the experience of working students provided some insight regarding the impact of work on academics, however, previous research relied primarily on quantitative data. The research that exists largely fails to represent the voices of working students. The results of this study contribute to the literature by describing the positive and negative experiences that exist for students at the nexus of their academics and employment.

Using a qualitative, collective case study approach, four students participated in two semi-structured interviews and provided several documents for analysis. Rich, thick descriptions were used to describe the experiences of students as individual cases. Cross-case analysis was used additionally to find the similarities and differences between the collection of cases. The nexus of academics and employment was discovered to be a potent place for students. Participants recognized educational benefits from employment, however, they were also challenged with having less time to put towards academic activities. Implications are provided for higher education professionals who work with students who are employed. Also included are recommendations for future research regarding the experiences of these students.

Adviser: Debra Mullen