Data from the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that about 34 percent of high school students work part time for about 20 hours a week or less. While working can have some negative effects on students, such as declining grades, holding down a job while in high school can also offer many advantages. Gaining an appreciation of financial independence, developing a strong work ethic and learning life skills are just a few of the advantages of working, while in high school.
Working during high school can be a character-building experience for students because doing so teaches them about responsibility, commitment, initiative, independence and accountability. These character traits are valuable in many areas of life and can even help students who are applying to college. Students that work a summer job can build as much character as more notable academic undertakings, so it's important that students let admissions officers know how the job helped them grow as a person.
Teaches Important Skills
To successfully hold down a job while in high school, students must have good time management skills and organization. Working allows them to practice multitasking, work on a team, build communication skills, learn interview etiquette and prioritize tasks. Parents can use this opportunity to teach children how to budget their money, avoid debt and keep track of income taxes. These skills will be important later on in college and when students enter the workforce as adults. Working in high school also builds a record of success in a job and leads to references that can be useful, down the line.
Effect on Academic Achievement
Students who work in high school may stretch themselves too thin, and, as a result, grades may suffer. According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), in a study of more than 12,000 students in grades eight through 12, researchers Herbert Marsh and Sabina Kleitman found that as students work more hours, their grades decline. They are also more likely to have lower academic and career goals, including being less likely to attend college, than their non-working counterparts. The research found this to be true for all students, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic group or academic ability.
Working during high school can also negatively affect students' social lives. Students who work in high school are less likely to be involved in extracurricular activities. They may feel left out and isolated from friends, especially on the weekends if they are at work and their friends are out enjoying themselves. Of course, working an after-school job also means less family time at home in the evenings.
Houston area native Marie Anderson began writing education articles in 2013. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise and sports science and a Master of Science in education administration. She has seven years of teaching and coaching experience within the Texas public school system.