High School Jobs: Do they help train students for the real world?

Cadi Zoeller, Contributor

Students having jobs is a familiar idea. There have always been students who work, whether it’s to bring extra income into their household or just to make some spending cash. The question is: Does having an after-school job help students or does it take away from their pre-existent responsibilities? Tons of research and opinion pieces point both ways, however, we will be taking a deep dive into both sides of the argument and everything that could possibly be going into each side. 

Let’s take a look at the affirmative side of the argument: after-school jobs benefit students and their futures. A few of our own Whitewater students were kind enough to give their input on the argument, Kamden Heistand and Athena Salcedo. Kamden is a Carrabba’s server and Athena Salcedo works at Chick-fil-A and is also a member of the WHS girl’s Varsity lacrosse team. Both Kamden and Athena agree that working during high school and in the food industry has taught them a lot about communication, customer service, and how to handle a lot of real-world scenarios. A document from the College Board website in the counseling section agrees and states that “employment teaches students about responsibility and can also reinforce what they are learning in school.” The same document advises students who have good time management skills or those who are looking to build upon their time management proficiency to look into getting an after-school job. Being able to manage time wisely between school, work, sports, and extra-curriculars is a skill that students will use for the rest of their lives. When asked if work had taken away from schoolwork, sports, or other extra-curricular activities, Athena answered that “everything seems to fall into place. It’s never too stressful when I plan out my days and time everything correctly.” Kamden agreed. As a dual enrollment student, Kamden said that her courseload is not unmanageable when combined with her time at work. Additionally, an opinion piece by Shannon Doyne with the New York Times states that after-school jobs instill a “sense of independence and personal responsibility” in students.  Overall, students who have jobs benefit greatly and learn about real-world situations.

Though after-school jobs have a lot of benefits to students and youth society as a whole, there are also plenty of reasons why jobs cause problems in students’ lives and their education. After-school jobs are around 15-20 hours per week and many students cannot find the time in their schedules to take those extra hours out of their availability. Many employers claim to be student-friendly but are not. With a lack of flexibility and strict management, many students cannot fit the toll that a job would take on their personal and academic life into their schedule. Often, working over 15 hours a week at an after-school job can lead to “reduced academic performance” in students (Waldenu.edu: Should Students Hold Jobs While in High School?). Students who already struggle academically will only cause their grades to suffer more if they over-schedule and pressure themselves into holding an after-school job. In addition to their academic achievement, jobs also take away from extra-curriculars and sports which are incredibly important to most students. Many school sports take hours away from a day in a student’s life and adding a job and the responsibilities that come with a job will only cause students to feel pressured and stressed out. When students are consistently over-exhausted and stressed out, their mental health begins to decline, one of the leading causes of today’s generation’s battle with mental health struggles. Sometimes having a job is just not compatible with every student and jobs should be tailored to a student’s abilities and schedule. 

Because student jobs have their pros and cons, the decision of whether to have a job or not should be a decision made between a student and their parents. Each student and their pre-existent responsibilities are different, therefore, there is no direct answer to whether or not students having jobs in high school is beneficial or not. If you’re considering applying for an after-school job, take the time to talk to your family, coaches, teachers, and potential employers about whether a job is compatible or not. 

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Work Cited:

Walden University. “Should Students Hold Jobs While in High School?” Walden University, 25 Mar. 2021, www.waldenu.edu/online-doctoral-programs/doctor-of-education/resource/pros-and-cons-of-working-a-job-in-high-school.


nytimes.com. 22 Sept. 2022, www.nytimes.com/2022/09/22/learning/should-all-high-school-students-have-part-time-jobs.html.


Students and Part-Time Work – Counselors | College Board. counselors.collegeboard.org/counseling/prepare/work. Accessed 28 Oct. 2022.


Additional Sources: Kamden Heistand (12th), Athena Salcedo (12th)