For many students, obtaining a first job represents a big leap of one’s journey into adulthood. It is a shining symbol of independence, one that shows that a student will soon be ready to embark on their journey into the world beyond school. Often preceded by earning a driver’s license, going to one’s first homecoming dance, and winning that big athletic event, getting a job is just one more check mark that confirms that students are ready to live on their own.
While a job in general is considered helpful for gaining valuable knowledge of what working in the real world is like, student’s reasons for acquiring said jobs can vary widely.
A recent poll conducted by The Mycenaean set out to find these differences. The survey polled over 100 seniors in academic, Honors, and AP classes to determine how many students had jobs and the reasons behind their choices. Out of 109 seniors polled from all four classrooms, 67 (or 61% of students) currently had jobs, while 42 (or 39% of students) didn’t have jobs. Compare this to a Pew Research Center poll conducted in 2014, which shows the national average of teens with jobs hovering just over 25% for the month of September. The comparable figure for LRHS is surprisingly high.
“I currently work at a restaurant over the weekends,” said Saarah Qasrawi, one of the students polled in the survey. “Usually, I save up for things that I want, such as new clothes and makeup.” She adds that she is generally able to balance the job well with her school schedule.
Saarah is among the 19 students in her Honors english class that currently have jobs, nearly two-thirds of the class. The survey found, however, that while Honors and AP classes have a relatively high number of students with jobs, academic classes have an even higher ratio. The poll found that 65% of people from regular English classes have jobs, compared to 58% for Honors or AP classes.
Even more interesting are the reasons students gave for having their jobs in the first place. Amongst AP/Honors classes, 77% of students listed that they had jobs to save up for things that they want, which includes saving up for purchasing certain luxuries, such as nice clothes or a cool car. In regular classes, just 52% of students were saving up for things that they wanted, as 48% were instead saving up for things that they needed. This category included the purchasing of certain necessities, such as a car, clothing, food, water, shelter, and/or helping out their parents. Over 23% of students in AP/Honors fell into this category as well.
Lainey Butler was one of the many students that fell into this category. “I needed a job because I needed to pay for my own car, insurance, and gas money, as well as pay for my own college tuition.” She also stated that when she’s not working, she is a tutor for several students at Leesville. “It’s not easy [to do both at once]. I wouldn’t recommend getting a job if you don’t have to.”
Besides the clear differences in the number of people that have jobs and their reasons why, reasons students have for not having jobs also differ. In AP and Honors classes, nearly every student (96%) attributed having little free time as their main reason to not having a job. This can be linked to homework, athletics, or other extracurricular activities getting in the way. In regular classes, just 33% of students could say the same. A surprising 54% of students in this category stated that they were unable to obtain a job due to their parents requests, the need to help their parents out first, or a disadvantage that prevented them from getting a job in the first place.
So what do these statistics show between the two groups? Can any inferences be made? For starters, it is clear that both groups have very different reasons for taking on their respective jobs, and also have varying reasons as to why they don’t have jobs. Based on the data of the AP and Honors surveys, since fewer students need jobs to carry on with their everyday lives, fewer students are willing to get jobs in the first place. Their placement in a more challenging curriculum also leaves little leeway for extra time to devote to a job outside of school. This is shown to be the opposite in regular classes, as more students require jobs to achieve their basic needs.
A few takeaways can be made for the entire student body as well, the most surprising one being that more students at Leesville have jobs than those who don’t. Students who don’t have jobs are also usually too busy with school or sports to obtain one to begin with. This leaves a final inference to be made: The Leesville Road High School student body is composed of hard-working, responsible individuals who are committed to the success and prosperity of their future.