It is possible to juggle school and work

Kaden Horton, Staff Reporter

Money. It’s the green, rectangular piece of paper that holds the power to make the world spin. Money has the ability to create memories that can last a lifetime, but for many high school students, this coveted currency comes only through putting in the work at a part-time job. 

Having a job in high school comes with plenty of benefits, but it can also be difficult to manage both work and academic life. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to balance the two.

According to a survey of 102 North students, 84.8 percent of them currently have a job. 

A large number of local businesses are employing teens due to mass labor shortages, making jobs more available for students than ever before. 

According to senior writer Drew Desilver at Pew Research Center, “The summer of 2021 was the strongest in years for U.S. teenagers seeking work. Beset by labor shortages, businesses trying to come back from the COVID-19 pandemic hired nearly a million more teens than in the summer of 2020.”

Besides jobs being easier to get, they also open the door for new friendships. This is true for North senior Logan Kofski, whose job has allowed him to build relationships with his coworkers. 

“I’m good friends with almost all of [my coworkers] both in and out of the workplace,” Kofski said. “I definitely wouldn’t have these friendships without my job.”

Jobs not only allow for new connections, they also impactfully shape a person’s character. For Plainfield South junior Isabella Allison, her job has transformed her significantly, affecting how she carries herself. 

“I’ve become more productive, more confident, punctual, eager to learn new things, and social,” Allison said.

Working also teaches students valuable life lessons, and for North special education teacher Karin Schmidt, these lessons didn’t come easy, but she still applies them to her current career. 

“I learned that life isn’t always fair,” Schmidt said. “I had to work on Christmas Eve, and I remember being so angry. I didn’t want to be there, but neither did anyone else. I needed to do what my bosses told me to do or else I’d be fired.”

With all things, there are drawbacks as well as benefits, and jobs are no different. It isn’t easy having to work long hours and still maintain quality grades. Jeylan Mortimer, sociology professor at the University of Minnesota, explained to that in most cases, having a job in high school lowers a student’s chances of academic success.

“Teens who work long hours tend to have lower grades, higher drop-out rates and more absences,” Mortimer said.

North U.S. history teacher Brianne Gallagher sees the results of students whose time is spread too thin. She finds that the majority of her students who work have difficulty paying attention in her classes. 

“I have had many cases where my students are asleep and trying to work on other assignments because they didn’t have enough time before,” Gallagher said.

While balancing work with school can be hard, it’s not impossible. It simply requires some self-examination and seeing what schedule works and what doesn’t.

“Ask yourself — “How much work can I cope with?” writer Andrea Cánovas said. “And again, prioritize and decide what you need to do first in order to be successful.” 

A high school job has its ups and downs, but ultimately, it comes down to an ability to find balance. Allison has found this balance, and she is now free to enjoy both her career and her studies.

“It wasn’t easy at first, I won’t lie,” Allison said. “It took a lot of time to see what worked for me, but I am now at a point where I enjoy what I do both in school and at my job. It ultimately comes down to what works for the individual student, but I can guarantee that once they find what works best for their situation, a job can be nothing but beneficial.”