Many students look forward to winter break not only for a few weeks without a midterm, but also for going home to spend time with family and friends. However, the story is different for many working college students.

Depending on their places of work, some students say they get only a few days off, and others cannot go home at all for the holidays.

Business administration sophomore Miriah McAfee works as a salesperson at downtown boutique Lulu Luxe. She said she traveled to her hometown in Washington for a few days over Thanksgiving break and will travel for a few days over winter break. 

“I get to go home for a week at Christmas, but most people at my work have only a few days switching on and off, which makes it really hard to go home,” McAfee said.

McAfee said holiday breaks are a luxury, especially for out-of-state students.  

Students who work on campus face limited time off during holiday breaks as well. Nutrition sophomore Janelle Maglione works at Shake Smart as a shift lead manager. 

“I [had] to stay until Wednesday, Nov. 27 for Thanksgiving break and [came] back Saturday Nov. 30,” Maglione said. 

She said she was unable to visit family in her hometown of Orange County over Thanksgiving break due to the travel time. Her manager asked employees for their requests for time off during winter break, but did not inquire about their plans for Thanksgiving. 

Maglione said her working hours during holidays make it difficult to stay in contact with her high school and hometown friends.

“It starts to feel less like home and more nostalgic,” Maglione said. 

But, for many, working to pay for college is worth the sacrifice. This is the case for industrial engineering junior Peter Bishop, who works at High Street Deli.

“I get paid well enough that it’s better to stay and focus on grinding rather than spending money at home,” Bishop said.

Bishop said he stayed in San Luis Obispo until the day before Thanksgiving. He said his employers asked that he requested his time off at least two months in advance.

At High Street Deli, Bishop said the manager hired more local high school students that did not need as much time off for the holidays so they could remain well-staffed over the break.

At Lulu Luxe, however, McAfee said only college-aged students are employed. Seasonal hiring is not allowed, she said, because of the extensive time and effort employers spend training employees. 

High school workers are not an option at Shake Smart either, as the business likes to “employ college students to serve college students,” Maglione said. 

“I have to continue working, even though I barely ever get to see my family,” McAfee said.

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