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It’s My Money, and I Want It Now!

The Dangers of High School Students Working Part Time Jobs.

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“Tu es fatigué. Avez-vous travaillé la nuit dernière?” [“You are tired. Did you work last night?”] Every Thursday, the second I step into Room 223 for third period French, Mr. Bodin mutters these words. And every Thursday, I plop in my seat and mumble back, “Oui…” [Yes…] The life of a high school student is rough to start with- getting up at 6:30, sitting at desks for seven hours, a few hours to hang with friends then returning home to do sometimes hours of homework. Yet, according to the National Labor Bureau, 25% of American high schoolers make their lives even more difficult by adding a part-time job into the mix.

This 25% of students head home at 2:30 to change into their work clothes and, if they’re lucky, knock out a 20-minute power nap. And, although my boss’s claim that you should work because it “makes you money and prevents you from spending it,” should money be on the minds of high schoolers?

While the intentions for lacing up the work boots range from aiding families to having some pocket dough, students should be very careful in deciding whether or not to get a job due to the very serious danger that comes from the time commitment. In a Stanford Medicine study, 1/7th of high schoolers suffer from sleep deprivation with that number jumping to 1/5th for those who add a part-time job. And while many believe sleep deprivation is harmless and that you have to “get used to it for college,” the dangers are real. In those who work more than 17 hours a week, their GPA dropped an average of 0.7 from previous semesters, which would be the difference from the top-20 college Northwestern and Monmouth. Beyond that, the lack of sleep can cause the stress of high school to become to bearable leading to anxiety, depression, and, in extreme cases, suicide.

The dangers of finding work to have enough money for Starbucks and Spotify are real. However, there are steps students can take to find that balance between school, work, and life. One of the biggest ways to help this is to plan ahead. See when big tests are so you can take off more days to study. Know when your breaks are so you can grab more hours. While this helps the balance, it also helps develop one of the biggest benefits of having a job: time management. ”Before I worked, I just took my time and procrastinated,” Jake Fiala, varsity basketball captain, and Gene and Jude’s worker claims, “but since I’ve had to deal with getting homework done in an hour at most on occasions, I do everything with a little more pep in my step.”

While Fiala, myself, and many other workers are in it for the money and time balancing, other use their work to gain experience in another branch of management: finances. According to a University of Michigan study, students who worked 100 or more hours in high school were 50% less likely to make unnecessary purchases in adulthood, and even 40% more prepared for retirement. The long-term benefits of grinding out hours pay off within itself, many students have matured quick enough to reap the benefits now. “I have never asked my parents for money since I started working,” Waldo Diaz, Banana Republic worker, said, “in fact, I’ve actually been giving my parents money to help pay for bills and such. It truly is a great feeling to contribute at a young age.”

All-in-all, there are pros and cons to finding a job in high school. The biggest takeaway from this situation is summed up by Mr. Haworth’s famous quote for anyone who has ever had him. “The four years of high school decide the next forty years of your life.”  While $100 a week sounds great now, don’t let it damage your salary for the next forty!

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Keeping watch over student news at East Leyden High School
It’s My Money, and I Want It Now!