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Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Updated: Apr 2

Most high school students would agree that working is no fun task. Yet, they still have jobs despite being financially supported by their parents. Why is that? 


The unwavering pull of consumerism? 


The impending doom of college debt? 


Or perhaps the ever-present fear of being unprepared at one’s first “grown-up job.” 

Whatever the reason, the fact is that 81.7% of North Scott students reported having a job. With such a large majority of the student body being part of the workforce, it makes one question how balancing work and school impacts student life. 

Some argue that taking on both school and work is too stressful for students. High School is one of the busiest times in the average person’s life. There are social expectations, sports practices, community service requirements, additional extracurriculars, and, of course, time-consuming academic demands. Concerned parents or overwhelmed students often feel that adding the responsibility of a job on top of this already rigorous schedule is a recipe for a mental breakdown. 55.4% of employed North Scott students agree, stating that they find being a working student overwhelming. With such a demanding schedule, it's often a challenge to have the right priorities. Teachers have noticed students consistently skipping P6 to make it to work on time, prioritizing work over school. Additionally, students will often care more about making money than exploring interests through extracurricular activities. So, it is safe to say that in some cases working in high school leads to stress and lowered academic performance.


That being said, many others are firm believers that balancing work and school builds valuable skills. One such skill is time management. As mentioned above, high school is full of obligations, but so is the rest of life. By dividing their time between work and school, students can learn early on how to organize their schedules. This goes hand in hand with learning responsibility.


Being a working student demonstrates to students how they must be held accountable for their duties at school and especially at work, where a team will be relying on them. 90.2% of working students at North Scott agree that working while in school has taught them responsibility. Not only are they responsible for their duties at school and work, but they also learn how to responsibly manage their money. For the first time in their lives, students are making their own money. They need to learn how to budget and save. Learning this in high school gives them room to learn from their mistakes; by learning early, they are saving themselves from financial catastrophe further down the line. Not only will money management help them in the future, but so will the money itself. 74.7% of North Scott students work to save for the future. Whether it be for college or another path, money is a necessity for post-high school life. While balancing school and work may be overwhelming, so is life. Many, including most North Scott students, believe that it’s better to gain skills from working at a young age rather than being forced to figure it out as an adult. 


So, what side do the experts agree with? Well, the answer is both. According to the National Library of Medicine, “the effects of teen employment on the successful transition to adulthood depend on its patterning through the years of high school and its quality.” They are essentially concluding that working while in high school can only help you build those essential skills under the right circumstances. If an already busy student adds a 30-hour work week into the equation that’s only going to foster stress; however, a schedule of 5-10 hours may be the perfect amount to teach them additional skills. In addition to the amount of time spent working, the duties you perform also play a role. Having an extremely demanding job, or simply one that doesn’t interest you, can contribute to higher stress levels. So, it’s important to find a job that interests you and possibly is related to your future field of study.


Working hard on Black Friday!

As a working student myself, I find that this is pretty spot on. Working 25 hours a week at Subway while taking rigorous classes and being in sport for tennis only led to me having a mental breakdown and crying to my mom. Now, at my current job, Hollister,  I work only a few hours a week, find the work much more enjoyable, and have a closer relationship with my coworkers. I learned a lot from both of these positions, but I will say the environment of Hollister has made it much easier to grow my skills and have a positive relationship with work. So, if you can fit it into your schedule, my final advice would be to find a job you can (somewhat) enjoy and prepare yourself for the future!

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