High school is so yesterday. Perhaps you find yourself ready for the real world at 16, but school is holding you back. Maybe you get so restless in class that you'd rather be spending the time filling your pocketbooks. There are programs that allow high school students to do a high school work study program that combines the best of both worlds.
Talk To Your Guidance Counselor
Talk to your guidance counselor about any possible work study programs in your high school. These are likely reserved for 11th and 12th graders exclusively. Some school give you credit for the work-study and you also may receive a paycheck from your employer in the program. Ask about all your options. Ask about the percentage of students in the program that go on to complete university. Some have these programs specifically set up for those who are not on the college track as an alternative career preparation path.
Talk To Other Students
Talk to others who are currently in a work-study program. Ask your counselor or principal for the names of students who are currently in the program. Ask if you can drop in on a class. If that is not your style, ask if they can provide a currently enrolled student with your phone number with a request that he calls you with information. Go about this however you feel most comfortable, but make sure you take this important step. Ask him all the things that you wonder about the program. Get the insider information, and assess how others tend to like the program.
Contact Potential Colleges
Call the college that you think you'll want to attend one day. Ask them what they think of students who complete work-study programs and give them the details of the one you are considering. Some schools may have to be politically correct on what is looked upon as acceptable, but you will get a better feel on what the impression of the programs are at your particular school of choice.
Apply For Work Study
Apply once you have established that this is the right move for you. This may include completing many individual applications for employment at possible employers in the program. Ask for as much help from your counselor as needed. Those in charge at your school are there to help you through your high school experience, and let them know if you need more assistance than is already given. Sometimes not speaking up is telling people that you don't need help at all.
Keep in touch with both your employer and teacher on a regular basis. Make sure the two of them are seeing eye to eye. You want to make sure that you get proper credit and the proper paycheck.
Log Hours Worked
Log all hours worked. Buy a notebook just for this purpose. It can be a fun journal or simply something from the dollar store. It is imperative that you keep a personal log of each time you clock in, clock out and take a break. You may need this later on for payment or class credit.
Show up on time, and show up prepared. This is the way to enter the work force, and this is what is required for a great grade as well. If a picture speaks a thousand words, how you show up for the job is worth a thousand dollars. Look professional, and remain calm, cheerful and professional no matter what task you are asked to perform.
Know State Labor Laws
Know the labor laws in your state for employing minors. While they may seem put into law merely to serve you with more paperwork on your road to employment, the labor laws for minors were put there to protect you. Know the laws for your state, and make sure your employer follows them. The last thing you want to do is be quoting law constantly at your employer. That's a good way for the employer to be motivated to find a creative way to get you fired. However, your employer should never keep you working overtime, working under unsafe conditions or working with harassment. You have a right to a safe and secure work place, and you should not be afraid to ask for it.
Maintain High Academic Standards
Make sure to keep your school work up more so than ever while enrolled in a work study program. Many programs will evict you from such programs if your school work fails. Prioritize, and really show up for yourself.
Spend time applying for lots of jobs in advance. You want to get the most out of your work study program both financially and in knowledge gained on the job. If a job does not offer you both rewards, look elsewhere. It's worth a few more weeks' wait for a great job rather than a mediocre one that is easy to come by.
Don't rush into a work study program while in high school. This is a big step that can influence the rest of your life. Make the decision only after speaking with parents, a school counselor and the admissions group at the future college of your choice.
Robin Raven was first published in 1998. She has contributed to newspapers, magazines and online publications, including "The Malibu Times," "Act'ionLine" for Friends of Animals, USA Today Travel Tips and the official Melissa Gilbert website. Raven specializes in travel, health, beauty, culture, vegan nutrition, joyful living, arts and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing.