The Atlantic recently looked at the realities of working while in college and interviewed working students about managing their studies, college life and jobs, which include overnight shifts in warehousing and distribution. Reporter Alena Semuels also visited Berea College and liked what she heard. Here's an excerpt . . . Berea is one of just seven “work colleges” in the United States. Many, like Berea, provide free or reduced tuition in exchange for work. All try to incorporate that work experience into a student's academic life, so that students don't have to sacrifice their education to earn money.  

Located on the edge of Appalachia, Berea serves many low-income students who would have had to take out large loans to attend college at all (99 percent of first-year students are eligible for Pell Grants). The jobs assigned to students vary from serving food in the dining halls to working in the public-relations office of the school, and are limited to 10 to 15 hours a week.

“They schedule you around your classes here,” (Berea College student Brittany Kenyon  told Atlantic reporter.) “The classes come first, if you have an hour here, and hour there, that's when you work.”

The freedom of not having to pay for school has allowed some students to use their time to invest back in the community. One student I talked to, Ethan Hamblin, was able to work for a foundation that encouraged grassroots philanthropy in Appalachia. He is still employed there today, although he already graduated.