Sketch of a working teen
from the Center for Disease Control
It’s 3:30 and Logan’s dismissal bell rings, releasing a rush of students out of their classrooms. Many of the students will head home, and others will attend a club or participate in another after school activity. Many, of the students, however, will end their school day only to begin their workday.
So how do students with jobs get all of their schoolwork done and work at their job, all without sacrificing any part of their education? It’s simple, actually--they just can’t.
When a student applies for certain jobs during the school year, it may not occur to them that the hours they’ll be working will often interfere with their ability to study and do homework. The jobs students take up many times start right after school and keep them working until late in the night, leaving barely enough time to complete their necessary tasks for school. The dedication many working students show toward their jobs seem to prioritize the work over education, and it’s all for a little cash in pocket.
Although certain precautions are taken to ensure a student succeeds in school while working, they are often ignored and ineffective. Take the worker’s permit process, for example; the employer writes down the time frame from which a student will be working, but if the student works over that time, late into the night, who’s there to say they shouldn’t? I can recall countless nights when I was stuck working overtime on school nights past the permitted time for students. There’s simply no way a school can effectively enforce a time restriction for students to work.
Students’ grades are also taken into account before issuing a worker’s permit, but this too has its flaws. There is a way to restrict students with already low grades from obtaining a work permit, but there is no way to monitor how their grades are being maintained while working. Students can be nearly failing all their classes mid-semester, but the school won’t know until the end of the semester—enough time to completely fail their classes. Not only is the school not completely aware of the progress of working students, they don’t seem to be enforcing the “grade standards” at all. Seemingly, once you get your worker’s permit for a particular job, you have it for good. It seems no one will come knocking on your door to tell you you can’t work anymore. No one will stop by your place of work and notify your employer.
Essentially, the entire worker’s permit process is defective since it doesn’t actively ensure a student’s grades don’t slowly degrade, all unnoticed and unattended to.
Of course, it is very possible for students to be both successful at school and at the workplace. Some students eventually learn to manage their time more effectively in order to manage both school and work. “I usually end up doing my homework late at night after work. It’s hard when I’m so tired, but I know I have to do it,” says Maryam Qudos, a junior that works as a receptionist in a high-end salon.
Students are not completely oblivious to the fact that there may be a grade drop upon entering a job, but the high costs of one’s daily necessities often require them to keep working. Michael Nesse, a senior working at Red Lobster says, “I knew what I was risking, but I was willing to give up part of my grades for some cash. I need gas for my car, or else I wouldn’t even be able to get to school!”
It is difficult to manage a workload alongside schoolwork, but it is not completely impossible. When you accept a job, just know what you’re up for, and know your priorities. The last thing we want is a richer, “dumber” student.