Students Balancing School and Work: How Do They Do It?

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Megan White, Writer

While school can feel like a job itself, many students work after school to receive a paycheck. From grocery stores to gas stations, teenagers have it covered. There is rarely a time one will walk into a Market Basket and not have a 16 year old bag their groceries.

Those teenagers bagging up groceries were likely in class a few hours before this. So how do they manage it? What are some tips that help to balance work and school?

According to research done by Walden University, nearly 30 percent of high school students are employed in a job for at least a portion of the school year. 

If 30 percent of high school students can uphold a job, the best option to learn the pros and cons for working while learning is to talk straight to the sources.

Pentucket Senior Olivia Regan explored two different work environments by working at the Haverhill Country Club and a restaurant called Balance. Reagan stated, “During the school year, I typically only work at Balanced on Saturdays for 8 hours and over school breaks. I work at the Haverhill Country Club (HCC) at the end of the school year and the beginning.”

However, as we all adjusted to a new schedule of remote school, Reagan picked up a few extra shifts. She says that “because of remote school, I now work on Mondays and Saturdays, and I pick up shifts during the week on my remote days, which is something I could never have done before.”

All over the world, as remote learning increased, many students began working as if they were not in school. While some schools provided a strict back-to-back class schedule even when remote, other schools provided a schedule that has flexibility. Flexible schedules allow teens to get their work done without being held to the micromanagement of the school day.

Due to many teenagers working within or after school hours, Reagan was asked if there is ever a time when work comes before school. She answered, “I try not to put work before my school work, but sometimes I do not see a point in doing remote busy work that does not actually teach me anything, so I will go make money instead.”

When there has not been as much face-to-face learning going on with Covid, teachers struggle to provide meaningful work outside the classroom. It makes sense why most teenagers would prefer to make money than do busy work. 

In addition to Reagan’s schedule and how she handles remote learning with jobs, she was asked for her tips on balancing school and work.

In her own life, to maintain balance, she follows a few simple steps. “I wake up early before work to try and get as much done as I can. I like to get my schoolwork done before work so that I can come home and relax after and not spend my whole day focused on schoolwork.”

For others, tips for student-workers would be to find a schedule, and try to prioritize one’s homework. Reagan stated, “If you can, bring your schoolwork to work and be creative in the ways that you can get your assignments done.”

There is a need for tips on balancing a school and work schedule as students often find themselves putting work before school as it becomes more beneficial to them in their current state. It can be challenging to handle a grueling school week on top of putting multiple hours into a job.

As there is always a negative side to everything, it is important to learn about the challenges working and learning can come with. 

Senior Ben Linke works at Groveland gas, a full serve gas station. Linke has challenged the norms of typical teenage life by working more hours than the average student. While working more hours, one needs to have more strategy towards getting their school work complete. 

Linke was asked what can be the downside to balancing work and school?  He said, “First of all, school is stressful enough as it is. Having to sit for six hours doing worksheet after worksheet, homework, and then throw a job into the mix. Suddenly, there is not enough time between work and school. For a lot of people, it is too much and they start sliding in school and losing motivation for work.”

As Linke does choose to work long hours more often, should schools become more accessible to working students? With schools deciding to go back full time, how will students react as they have been working on the off days?

Linke said, “In my case, I started prioritizing work. I put work over school because, right now, work feels more important. Money does not grow on trees and money makes the world go round, so having a job is a necessity.”

His most important statement would be that “school needs to accommodate students who work a lot more than they are doing now,” which seems to be a common theme in modern times.

Teenagers have been exposed to a multitude of different school environments in the past year; there was a time when remote work did not count, a time when students were fully remote, a time where students go twice a week, and now all five days again.

Flexible schedules have led to many changes in how students work their jobs. It has given many the opportunity to learn more valuable skills and how important money-saving can be for one’s future. Jumping back into students’ old working schedules of mainly weekends and some night shifts will create a drastic change for many. 

It might be time to reevaluate the school systems accessibilities for working students.