Having a job during high school provides many benefits, especially that extra money in your pocket, but balancing a part-time job with school work, activities and sports can be challenging. Managing your time and keeping your long-term goals in perspective is essential to a successful job.
Lynda McGee, a college counselor at Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles, said students learn a lot from jobs.
“You learn about responsibility and time management, and you learn there’s a world outside of yourself,” McGee said. “Meeting other people, gaining new skills and getting practical experience will help you throughout life.”Busy schedules
Many students, though, have more going on than just a part-time job.
“Lots of students are very swamped in school,” said Dave Bennett, the career guidance specialist at Columbia River High School in Vancouver, Wash. “They’re involved with activities and sports, and many don’t have time to work.”
Lilian Lavo, a senior at Downtown Magnets, is very busy. In addition to working at a fast-food restaurant, she plays basketball and softball and is involved with the student association.
“The good thing about it is that (my employers) care about school so they schedule around my activities,” Lavo said. She works around 25 hours a week, but during sports season cuts her hours appropriately.
Lilian wants to go to college in California and major in engineering. She has been able to save money for school, but it hasn’t been easy.
“I do help my parents, like paying for my cell phone,” Lilian said. “When I have extra money, I put it in the bank.”Saving for college
A part-time job is a great way to save money for college. Cell phone bills, car payments and other expenses, however, can quickly whittle your savings down. Identifying the things you need to buy and going without some of the fun things you want will help you save money.
A part-time job, though, won’t cover all your college expenses, McGee said. Most students still need scholarships or financial aid to fully pay for college. And many of those financial opportunities are tied to grades.
“Students learn very quickly to manage and organize their time,” Bennett said. “Some days can get very busy, but keeping track of assignments and projects in a planner or agenda is a great skill to develop.”
“Students need to learn to get it all done,” she said. “Sometimes that means getting your homework done on the bus if you go out of town for sporting events.”Family help
Working during high school isn’t just about saving money or learning life skills, many students work to help out their families.
Rudy Munoz, a senior at Downtown Magnets, works in his parents’ restaurant as a waiter. He puts in 20-30 hours a week plus is involved with cross country, soccer, and track and field.
“When my parents first started the business they didn’t have a lot of money,” Rudy said. “I often worked without pay until we got the business going.”
Because his family obligations are so time-consuming, Rudy learned to get his schoolwork done on time.
“I try to finish my homework during school whenever I can,” Rudy said. “If I can’t finish at school, I try to get it done when I get home before I go in for work.”
No matter what situation you are in, working during high school is very beneficial. It teaches you important life skills and helps you save for long-term goals like college.
Just remember: your job should not interfere with your schoolwork, as your education is most important right now.