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Students struggling to balance school and jobs

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High school is a stressful time for most students. But when students throw in a job on top of academics and extracurricular activities, things can become even more challenging.

Here at CM, we have some students who work from the time they get off school to very late at night.
Junior Emily Welch works at LaBest Pet Resort in Edwardsville for 17-20 hours a week.

“I try to do most of my homework at school but if I don’t, when I come home from work I have to finish it. I try to start my homework by 7-7:30 and I usually get done between 9 and 11,” she said.

Time management is a big factor when it comes to working and going to school.

“It has made me realize that I suck at time management,” said Welch. “Before working, I knew I needed to improve on that skill, but at work I realized it more when I wasn’t clocking out on time.”

Ashley Stieber, a junior who works at Long John Silvers in Wood River, said that while it’s a challenge to balance school and work, it can be done.

“Having a job makes school quite a bit harder if you’re not able to set aside time for your schoolwork. (But) it shouldn’t be too hard to work and go to school if you’re committed to making it happen,” she said.

Stieber said that teachers need to understand that students are trying to figure it all out.

“I want teachers to understand that we’re all in the process of finding our perfect balance so it would be really nice if they would work with us on due dates and things so we don’t get overwhelmed,” she said.

“One thing that would be great for teachers to understand is if I don’t finish my homework, it’s because I’m exhausted. I go to school, come home and get ready for work, run around for two hours trying to get things done, and then come home. I get up at seven (a.m.) six days of the week and don’t usually get to sleep until 11-12 at night. It’s stressful trying to tackle work, school, and social life all together.”

In addition to time management, working students find that the real-world experience they get opens their eyes to the way things work in the adult world.

Senior Quinlan Radcliff works at Panera in Edwardsville for 15 to 25 hours a week. The demands of the customers are what really takes him aback. “They expect to be served with a gold spoon,” he said.

Junior Jayda MacArthur, who works at Pizza Hut, has also had her fair share of experiences with customers.

“One time, this racist family came in, and I’m the one who had to take the table. They made things very difficult. They told my boss I was doing terrible at keeping up with their pizza. They called me a rather rude name and left.”

Students also discover that adults in the real world can have a “no excuses” kind of attitude.

MacArthur had her hours cut from 27 hours a week to only seven after she called off sick, despite having a doctor’s note.

Research has shown that working long hours can negatively affect teenagers. In a 2013 New York Times article titled “Teenagers’ Work Can Have Downsides,” Jacob Bachman, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Social Research, said that longitudinal research shows a decline in academic performance and an increase in delinquent behavior—such as truancy and drug use—among teenagers who work long hours.

Researchers have found that something called “premature affluence” can also negatively impact teenagers as they enter adulthood. This is when teens have an abundance of money and develop poor spending habits as a result.

But these results don’t mean that teenagers shouldn’t work at all. There seems to be a “sweet spot” for work hours, Bachman said. His research has shown “that college completion rates are highest among those who worked 15 hours a week or less when they were high school seniors.”

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