Learn. Work. Repeat.

How having a job affects high school students’ academic performance

Photo courtesy via Creative Commons

Photo courtesy via Creative Commons

Alex Williams, Author

 As Battlefield students begin exploring the world of employment, they face the challenge of balancing work and school without becoming overwhelmed.  

While students at Battlefield begin to mature and find their independence, many of them start the search for their first job and the perfect opportunity to make some extra cashAs these students research jobs that suit their age and credentials, they will need to decide how many hours they can work, and how many days per week. With this decision comes the question of whether having a job is manageable during the school year, and how it will affect their transcripts.   

When asked if having a work and school balance is procurable, Faith Ainslie, a Junior at Battlefield who recently started her first job at Eugene’s, explained, “I have a bit less time for things outside of work and school, but if I use those awesome time management skills then everything is pretty balanced.” showing that the equilibrium is obtainable, when time management is properly utilized.  

Given this insight, it would be naïve of high school students to assume the green light is flashing go on employmentGenerally speaking, kids in every grade of high school can secure a job if they keep their horizons wide; and within these four grades, students are taking a large variety of classes, whether it be regular or AP, and participating in wide variety of extracurriculars from National Honor Society to the Archery team. Within this large variety of students, there will be many who cannot afford to have a job during the school year. This group will often include students taking AP classes, as they carry a much heavier workload, or students taking on a leadership position in extracurriculars, as those positions often call for more after school hours. 

Time management and balance aside, the big question many people are asking revolves around grades. Ian Kerby, a Senior at Battlefield who works as a Guest Service Advocate at Target, shared, “Early on I made sure my hours were small, so I could maintain a good average in my classes. So, in the beginning it didn’t really affect my performance, but more recently I’ve been working full time 40-hour weeks”. Ian explained that although maintaining high grades became more difficult as he started adding on more hours, it is not impossible to keep a steady average, “That being said, I’m not failing by any stretch of anyone’s imagination, it’s just more difficult to have to space out time. 

As shown through the quotes of employed Battlefield students, although manageable, having a job in high school comes with its hardships; but it is a two-sided coin. The effects of employment on the high school student do not stop at academic achievement and overall balance, and many of those other effects are positive. According to Walden University, “Summer jobs have been shown to decrease incidents of violence by disadvantaged youth by 43%.” having a desired influence on student’s character. This advantage is accompanied by many more on the positive spectrum of effects, such as time management skills, self-confidence, and early exposure to economics and financing. 

So before high school students fill out their first I-9 form, it is important that they stop and take the time to assess their personal situation and weigh the pros and cons of employment during the school year. When all is said and done, there is no clear yes or no to whether employment is the right fit for all students, because the answer comes down to how each individual handles their own workload and learns from the experience of punching their own timecard.