One of the common themes among schools that administer a work-study program is the difficulty of balancing both the student and the supervisor sides of the program. When schools are responsible for overseeing student eligibility, hiring, AND earning processes, there are often many internal departments involved. While sharing the workload is necessary, training and communicating with work-study supervisors (those directly supervising the work-study students) can be challenging.
Here are 3 tips to pass along to work-study supervisors to ensure that work-study students are managed well and stay within the confines of regulations:
- Focus on fit. With many program regulations to consider (i.e., federal eligibility, planning work schedules around class schedules, etc.), it can be easy to rush the hiring process and settle on someone who simply meets all criteria. However, finding a student who is a good fit in your office will increase the chances that they will stay in the position over at least a few years. This aspect can be vital to your success with the work-study program, as hiring and training someone new each year (or even each semester) can drain resources needed to keep the office running smoothly. Focus on the student’s fit into your office culture and the work-study program will feel like a success in your office.
- Communicate with the coordinator. One of the keys to maintaining a trained and competent work-study student is to ensure they maintain eligibility to earn funds all year while also maintaining satisfactory academic progress. Ensure that consistent communication with the Work Study Coordinator occurs on a monthly basis so that you can collaborate and plan ahead if any eligibility or academic issues arise. Both academic and financial aid success will be key to ensure a great work-study student can remain employed under your supervision.
- Plan with a purpose. Collaborating with the work-study student as you plan for the future will be key to that student feeling successful with the position and thus staying on a longer-term basis. Taking more of a mentorship approach with the student will not only help that student to take more ownership in the position but will also help the student prepare for a career after graduation.
The success of the work-study program depends largely on a committed approach from the work study supervisors. As a financial aid office responsible for administering the program, help ensure internal success by supporting the success of your departmental work study supervisors. We hope these tips will help support your ongoing efforts!