Does Working During the School Year Affect Student Performance?

Typically, teens will get jobs at local restaurants in which pay is good and is a place where many of their friends work. Flying Burrito (shown above), a Mexican restaurant is a popular spot for employing both Leesville grads and current students. (Photo used by permission of Sonnet House)

Being a high schooler has become relatively more expensive, as upperclassmen gain the privilege to eat off campus during lunch and have their own car. With that privilege, it tempts students to run through allowances or their pocket money at a rapid rate. Especially with the transition back into school, “summer spending”  slows down and teenagers focus in on necessities, and what money they get is spent towards more practical items.

During the summer, most teenagers get low level jobs as cashiers at grocery stores or waitresses and hostesses at restaurants. Those summer jobs supply teenagers with a steady paycheck to either save or spend, and begins to introduce teens to the real world of budgeting and saving. These jobs can have students working a majority of the week, and for large portions of the day, as school does not interfere.

For upperclassmen, the thought of keeping up a job is daunting, with those who take multiple AP and Honors level courses can cause students to slip in their classes. With homework piling up, students have to organize their time more efficiently and responsibly.

As a hostess at Flying Burrito, Megan Alcock, a junior, has been working at her job for two months and is continuing to keep her job throughout the school year. Flying Burrito commonly attracts both Leesville current and former students as a job opportunity and gives Alcock the opportunity to maintain a part-time job along with school. “I decided to work there because my friend told me how nice everyone is at her job and how good of a job it actually is,” said Alcock.

Working hours and schedules for part-time teenagers vary, and during the beginning of the school year, teenagers will only work on weekends in order to form a routine when returning to school. “I will usually work about five to seven hour shifts for about three to four times a week,” said Alcock. Her schedule is flexible however and communication with employers and managers help her work during times when school has to be priority number one.

Renee Muthakana, a junior, spends her after school time as a tutor at Kumon, a tutoring center for elementary and middle school grade children. Muthakana tutors elementary grade students in subjects such as math and occasionally english. “I have been working at Kumon for the past month and what got me interested was the aspect of being apart of a child’s education,” said Muthakana.

Juggling her life and school work seems difficult to many, as Renee is involved in many AP classes; however she says her work is a “stress reliever.” “School work can be difficult to complete but it is nice to have an outlet to let go of stress and help kids succeed in their life,” said Muthakana.

One thing both Alcock and Muthakana agree upon is how students should plan ahead and organize their time to do school work and be able to take part in after-school activities. “I think they should try and rearrange their schedule to best fit their classes and extracurricular activities so they have ample time to do homework and such,” said Alcock.

One issue for students is finding one job that can enhance the way it uses after-school time; long working hours with a dis-interesting job result in the assigned homework being incomplete.

Although students may think copious amounts of homework is unfair, the stress piles up even higher on the teachers when holidays and weather cancellations cause lesson plans to be derailed and pre scheduled days for tests and lessons get either eliminated or pushed back. In fact, more homework is often necessary to keep the class on track for the final exams in January.

Passion plays a role in deciding what jobs students should choose. Renee Muthakana stresses how important it is to like your job and what you do, so that you’re making the most out of the time. “It truly depends on whether a student should have a job or not because only if you are passionate about your job can you enjoy working there and earn quality money for your work,” said Muthakana.

For students who have to make money to pay for gas and food during the year, it becomes a big decision with choosing a job that pays well and also gives hours that are reasonable within the school week. Communication with parents, teachers and bosses as students work through the year is crucial in keeping on top of their school work, and making the adults around them aware of what is going on in that time they are spending after school. Teachers are understanding of students’ work and offer SMART Lunch time to give them the opportunity to do their work, when they feel they have none at home.



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