There are many reasons you might want to work part time while you are going to school. Maybe you want to save money for college, assist your family financially or learn useful job skills. On the flip side, your primary job is being a student. Working too many hours could tank your GPA, which would affect your chances of earning a scholarship and getting into your dream college or graduate school.
Percentages of Employed Students
Students with excellent time management skills can balance work and school, but most students are cautious about taking on so much responsibility. As of October 2017, about 23 percent of high school students and 44 percent of full-time college students were employed in the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More females than males attending high school or college were juggling work and academics.
Reasons for Working While Studying
Money, of course, is a big motivator for students entering the workforce. What student wouldn’t like extra cash? Look at all the places around you where teens are employed – grocery stores, retail, fast food, movie theaters, swimming pools, landscaping businesses and golf courses.
Students who work enjoy the challenge, responsibility and personal satisfaction that comes with being a valued employee. Working from an early age looks great on a resume because it shows employers that you are mature, dependable and goal oriented.
Reasons Against Working While Studying
One of the biggest disadvantages of working while studying is the stress and exhaustion you may experience. Keeping a detailed planner and a list of prioritized tasks can help, but that requires self-discipline and exceptional time management skills.
You may have trouble getting enough sleep. Exercising and self-care can end up low on your priority list. You may neglect your health and end up with mono. Getting sick will cause you to miss school and work, with detrimental consequences.
Advantages of Working While Studying
Working is one of the best ways to sharpen your skills and make a name for yourself. Achieving success on the job can boost your self-confidence. If you’re a gifted and talented student, you might want to be a math tutor, guitar instructor, photographer, web designer or landscaper.
You could use your imagination and think really big. Innovative high school students have started multimillion-dollar businesses by incubating and marketing a novel idea. Gaining real-world experience can help you narrow down your list of possible career choices.
Disadvantages of Working While Studying
A part-time job can be less of a benefit and more of a distraction for the typical student. You won’t make a lot of money working minimum wage jobs, especially after you factor in transportation costs, meals and work clothes. College recruiters urge students to challenge themselves in high school by tackling difficult subjects, enrolling in honors programs and taking AP classes.
Selective colleges also look at leadership roles students held, community service and level of extracurricular participation. You won’t have time for all that if your work shift starts right after school. Why risk your future for a few more dollars each week?
Make the Best Decision for You
Carefully weigh the pros and cons of working before submitting job applications. Consider working summers instead of during the school year, when you could be hanging out with friends at school functions.
Talk to your parents, guidance counselor, teachers and friends about the pros and cons of high school students working part time. You may hear strong opinions. Listen respectfully without arguing. Then, make a written list of the advantages and disadvantages of working while studying.
Keep in mind that some students do thrive when working while in college and in high school. Consider your energy level, your long-range plans and the sacrifices you will have to make if you devote several hours each week to work commitments. You may find it helpful to start out working just a few hours on weekends to see how things go and then slowly increase your hours.
- John Hopkins Student Assistance Program: School-Life Balance
- Fremont College: Top 10 Tips for Balancing School and Work
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Career Planning for High Schoolers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: College Enrollment and Work Activity of Recent High School and College Graduates Summary
- Money Crashers: 12 Great Summer Jobs for High School Students
- Fortune: 18 Under 18: Meet the Young Innovators Who Are Changing the World
Dr. Mary Dowd is a dean of students whose job includes student conduct, leading the behavioral consultation team, crisis response, retention and the working with the veterans resource center. She enjoys helping parents and students solve problems through advising, teaching and writing online articles that appear on many sites. Dr. Dowd also contributes to scholarly books and journal articles.