We’re all students. Most of us are broke. School has a lot of expenses, tuition, books and equipment. You would think that once you got all your required essentials, that was it. All students have the same chance to succeed, and the only thing that determines your outcome is a mixture of talent, skill and hard work.

 Unfortunately, this is not the case.

 Any student with a job is at a disadvantage. Adding on 20-30 hour work weeks on top of school is often overwhelming, and can lead to a lack of motivation, fatigue and a decrease in grades.

 A student without a job, who is living at home or has their essentials paid for has more free time, more energy and more time to devote to getting the most out of their program.

 It is the people with the least amount of money who also benefit the least from how our post-secondary system works, and also the work world beyond.

 A student without a job can put more work into projects, because his time is not precious, it is easily sacrificed. When you work 30 hour weeks, free time becomes a commodity. You don’t want to do school work on your one day off but you have to or you fail. You hate yourself if you do it, you screw yourself if you don’t.

 A graduate of our journalism program spent six months as an unpaid intern at a magazine before being hired on. She has a wonderful job now, but how many of you can afford to work full time hours unpaid for half a year? How many parents can afford that?

 It becomes an internal struggle. We either decide to not have a job, to devote ourselves to our studies, but come out with a much larger debt load. Or we decide to work and sacrifice our studies and grades. We may no longer qualify for bursaries or grants because our grades slip as we try to make money to eat.

 My own program isn’t an even playing field either. We have five tripods available to rent out for over 30 students, and a limited number of lenses for cameras and microphones for video. I don’t expect Algonquin to provide one for every student, but sometimes my lack of expensive equipment puts me at a distinct disadvantage. Better equipment gets better photos.

 The thing is, there’s no real solution to the problem.

 As long as education costs money, there will always be an advantage for those who have some to spare. It’s an experience that is supposed to be about growth of knowledge and skills, but for some it is a two to three year grind of work and school that doesn’t leave time for fun or friends.