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Can Students Balance School and a Job?

Many students hold down a job in addition to attending school. In fact 2/3 of teenagers will work by age 15. While having a job looks good on a student’s resume, how does this impact their schoolwork in a traditional brick-and-mortar school?

Parents have a range of opinions on the subject. Some feel that working would put too much on their teen’s plate. As A.J. told the New York Times about his teenagers having part-time jobs:

“For my daughters, four hours of a job during the week would be a huge stressor. Both are up at 5 a.m. so that they can get to school for their morning activities. They are home at 6 and have an average of four hours of homework a night. This gives them an hour or so to eat, shower and relax for a few minutes.”

Corey Scott pointed out to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal how demanding juggling school and his job is:

“I already go to school for eight hours, but I also have to go to work every day.” I don’t get home until about 11 on work nights, and then I have to eat dinner and shower, so I don’t even start my homework until around midnight. Needless to say, it’s pretty exhausting.”

Some studies on teens and jobs have found that teens who work 20+ hours a week have lower grades than those who work less or not at all and have a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. But the jury is split, as other studies have reported inconclusive data on the subject.

But some feel that having a job is beneficial for teens—teaching them responsibility, work ethic, and money management.

“A teenager’s job can teach work skills that school does not, and it can instill in the teen new confidence, sense of responsibility and independence. Earning money will enable your teen to buy things and to manage money. And the right job may provide networking possibilities and set your child on a rewarding lifetime career path.”

So how do you help your teenager decide what’s best for them, even in an online school? Here are a few considerations:

·         Can my teenager maintain their grades?

·         Are they getting enough sleep?

·         How crucial is it that my teen makes money?

·         Will they be able to manage their extracurricular activities and still have enough time to study?

·         Do they still have time to be with family and friends?

Amy Wickstrom gave some tips about teens with jobs to the Huffington Post:

“If your teen stays up several hours past bedtime to finish homework as a result of being at work, your teen may not be getting enough rest, may not be able to think clearly at school the next day or may be irritable with others.”

Some suggest letting your teen do a trial run to determine if a job will work for them. Perhaps they could try and work more hours on the weekend so their studies would be less impacted.

And maybe online education would allow your child to have the flexibility needed to hold down a job and perform well in school. Hailey told K12 that her online education allows her to serve as the CEO of her family’s nonprofit as well as manage her school work:

“It is very important to me to be part of our family business, which wasn’t very common for me to do when I had to be at school from 7:55 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.”

Attending an online school may let your teen complete their schoolwork during the day, allowing them to work in the evening without having to complete homework at night. They could also choose to work during the day and schedule their schoolwork around their job schedule.

Now that it’s summer, it may be a great time for your teenager to get a job. They can have the freedom to work more hours than they usually would during the school year. Jobs look good on a resume, so if your teen can’t work during the school year, this could be a great opportunity for them to get some work experience.

Have your own story to share about your teen holding down a job or how K12 and online learning has changed your family’s life? We’d love to hear it!


Image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/CC BY 2.0

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Lauren Martin

Lauren Martin

Lauren Martin is a Writer for Learning Liftoff. Previously, she has written for nonprofits as well as marketing agencies. She's covered environmental issues, women's rights, world poverty, and animal rights. With a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from Ithaca College, Lauren enjoys interviewing families about their experiences with online education.

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