Should Kids in High School Work?

For many parents with high-school age kids, and often for the teenagers themselves, one of the central questions is whether a part-time job is a worthy use of time.

Kids can be found working at supermarkets, video stores, ice cream shops, restaurants, and many other businesses in just about every locality.

But is what they learn in the process worth the time and effort invested?


As the idea was milling around in my head this week, I started to think of the various trade-offs that teens have to make when getting a part-time job.

I started talking with my wife about our own child and the potential future decisions we would have to make/help him make about working during high school.

Would we encourage working during school and for what reasons? How would we react if grades fell as a result of work? What kinds of principles would we try to teach him?

My wife’s take was this (and I’m paraphrasing, of course):

“Yes, we’ll encourage him to work, but if his grades fall below the level at which they would be if he was not working, it’s all over.”

That launched us into an interesting discussion, because I saw things from a completely different angle. I would be more than willing, in fact–I would expect, grades and other activities to slide as a result of working.

Maybe I don’t give my son (and other other 1 billion sons out there enough credit), but I see time management as a zero-sum game. There is only enough of it to do so many things.

When we consider school attendance, homework, and extracurriculars, there are probably a few hours left in the day to comfortably spare. As soon as work exceeds that amount of hours, something somewhere will have to give.

My thinking is to help kids understand this phenomenon, and arm them with the capability and decision-making process to make smart choices about what to prioritize. For the rest of their lives, there will never be enough time to do everything. Isn’t it time we teach them that early?

And on the topic of grades–I see that as a trade-off too, but not only in terms of time. Consider the straight-A student who does nothing in his spare time but study. Compare him to the B+ student who is working part-time in the afternoons and gaining valuable real-work experience and other skills (financial management, social skills, workplace skills, etc.).

My wife’s point of view? Kick the B+’s student butt into gear and bump his grades up to A’s, or drop the work. My point of view? Let the B+ student maintain his sanity (and sleep) and gain the valuable experience.

Don’t get me wrong–I see her point, and I see it clearly. I am far from making up my mind on this, and thankfully there’s still plenty of time to spare.

My Story

I have a bit of history with this topic, which gives me some insight about the effects of working in high school and how the challenges and benefits during your teenage years and beyond.

I obtained my first “legit” part-time job at 16 as a stock boy at the local supermarket. I was working anywhere between 15-25 hours a week, and watched my grades decline steadily with a lack of time and general exhaustion.

Once my parents caught on to what was happening, my hours were promptly cut and my grades were saved for the time being. However, I never stopped working entirely, and continued that streak all the way through college.

I’m not sure what would have happened if my grades continued to slide down, but I truly believe starting to work in high school helped me develop a work ethic that kept me years ahead of my peers in terms of “workplace maturity.” I saw it in myself, and it did not go unnoticed in the 6-8 jobs I held between high school and college.

It translated into better positions at every job I’ve held and added responsibilities when I could take them on. It also taught me very early on the value of a dollar, and how quickly money could disappear when you weren’t purposeful with your spending.

My Thoughts

Based on my own experience and my previously described line of thought, I would recommend that as many kids as possible try to work in high school, but I know that it’s not for everyone. Some kids need the extra time for studying; others are participating in so many after-school activities that their heads are spinning already.

We have more than 16 years to make up our minds, but unlike my wife, I’m a little more liberal with the approach to work experience. I understand that there’s a trade-off to be had, and I believe there’s big value there, and many lessons to be learned. I would be willing to let grades and other activities slide if it meant getting real-world work experience.

Does that make me a realist? Maybe a non-perfectionist? Or maybe I’m just unmotivated… Who knows?

A Pointless Discussion?

As the job market contracts, many part-time positions previously held by high schoolers are being eliminated or reduced.

To make matters worse, adults with meager job prospects and expiring unemployment benefits are turning to these part-time positions for any kind of income and continued sustenance for their families.

Reports indicate that high schoolers, who previously had their choice at any number of after-school and weekend jobs, are now finding themselves unable to find any work, even if the want it.

How that will affect the development of their future job, time management, and interpersonal skills remains to be seen…

It’s Your Turn!

I’d love you hear your input on these questions:

  • How do you feel about teenagers working in high school?
  • To what extent do you think it affects their skill set for the future?
  • Are lower grades a fair and acceptable trade-off for this improved skill set? If not (or if so), are there other acceptable trade-offs, like social life, extracurriculars, or sports?
  • What impact do you think the economy will have on kids who are now unable to work in high school?

Elsewhere Today

Before signing off for the day, here are a couple of places Fiscal Fizzle has been spotted around the Web this week:

Photo by John Steven Fernandez

59 thoughts on “Should Kids in High School Work?

  1. We spoke with a psychologist about high schoolers working and the affect on grades; he said it’s actually beneficial (for grades) for a kid to work 8-12 hours per week. Beyond that, grades suffer.

    Personally, I’m in favor of kids working during their school years. If they spend all of their time studying, by the time they graduate from college, they’re 22 years old and have never held a job. That isn’t preparing them for the workplace, it’s preparing them for the ivory tower!

    As competitive and demanding as the job market is today–and we can only imagine what it will be like 10-15 yrs from now–academic excellence alone probably won’t be enough to prepare kids for the real world. Ability to work with co-workers, bosses, vendors, customers and clients, to handle money and to make quick decisions under limited circumstances will be at least as important.

    Good topic Wojo–this should be an interesting thread!

    1. What an interesting perspective–thanks for sharing your insight from the psychologist, which sort of confirmed my gut feelings on that break-even amount of work. What’s interesting is that it would actually be beneficial below that amount–I am very curious as to some of the reasons why.

      Indeed, the job marketplace is changing at an ever-increasing rate. Which makes me think about things like “Should kids have Twitter accounts?” Privacy is an issue, sure–but are we depriving kids of learning how to use social media effectively. That’s just one example.

  2. I had a part-time job for a while as a cashier in a craft store, working 10 to 15 hours a week. My grades were just fine, and I still managed to do swimming and tennis, as well as band and academic team. Plus, I was active in 4-H. I think it depends on the teen, and how he or she copes with time management. I probably could have worked more, and watched my grades suffer, but then I wouldn’t have gotten a full-tuition scholarship. That scholarship meant that I only had to work part-time in college, to cover a few expenses and fun stuff, rather than having to work 3/4 to full-time.

    Anyway, after I got tired of working as a cashier for someone else, I got my first taste of being my own boss when I started teaching piano lessons my senior year of high school. I don’t teach lessons now, but I sure love being my own boss!

    1. Great point about the trade-off in scholarship money you were facing. By being free of worry about money, you actually had more freedom to pick what KIND of work was important to get at that time, too.

      Great points about self-employment, too. It’s great that you were able to experiment with that so early in life.

  3. I agree with you Wojo, and Kevin as well. I think a part time job with limited hours is great for teens. Mine are 14 right now and so far have only done some work cutting lawns in the neighbourhood. But they are getting interested in more steady work as well.

    In terms of grades, it depends on the teen. One of my sons, though very intelligent, has no use for school and his grades show it. This was not something we would have seen coming, as my husband and I both did very well in school and just assumed our kids would too. If he wants to get a job, I would definitely encourage it as his grades can’t get a lot worse.

    My other son does better in school, but he stresses out easily. I would also encourage him to get a job, as long as the hours are kept relatively low. In this job market, I doubt that would be a problem.

    Either way, I think your points about life lessons and real experience in the job market trump concerns over grades – within reason.

    1. It’s really a case-by-case kind of decision, as your example points out, even within the same family! Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. I agree that some form of work is a good choice. I worked summers after I turned 14 and it helped me. It’s really good for the interpersonal benefits and learning basic money management early in life. Lord knows they need this considering what adult choices they face in regards to making and appreciating the value of money.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Ken. The interpersonal stuff is probably one of the most under-estimated benefits of getting into workplaces early in life. I think it really helps you prepare for college and beyond.

  5. I didn’t work during the school year in high school, but I did work during the summers (2 internships with elected officials – one paid by a nonprofit foundation, one unpaid), and the summer between high school and college I worked retail for $6.75 an hour. I’d blow $2 of that on snacks at the food court, but it’s still a valuable experience (in how difficult it is to earn money).

    Among my classmates & friends, almost no one worked during the school year because of our commitments with classes (think 7 AP classes) and extracurricular activities (everyone was super-involved – journalism, Mock Trial, dance/athletics. I was in journalism and that involved staying at school til midnight every Thursday night to get out a paper for Friday. People more hardcore than I did journalism AND took Calc AP and competed in state tennis championships).

    I don’t think parents should insist on students working during the school year, but during the summers? Absolutely! Even if it’s not paid. It’ll still be a great experience and look good for college.

    1. Yes–something I hadn’t considered when writing was the option of working during breaks (which I also took full advantage of, at 40+ hours during summer and winter). It’s definitely a great third alternative.

  6. I look back to my high school years with fondness and I worked from the time I was able, first cutting lawns then once I was 16 I started at the Ranch-Drive In in my home town flipping burgers. By the time I was a senior I was the assistant manager. It was a fun job, and taught me a lot about business and work ethic. I made some of my closest friends there and continued to work there through college summer breaks, 6 years in total. It was a huge benefit to me and I will encourage my two boys to do the same, but I’m not going to push it really hard. Of course if they want to upgrade their piece of crap they’ll have to drive they might work a little harder :-).
    .-= Paul @ FiscalGeek´s last post: Retired Early, In Debt, No Job: When the American Dream becomes a Nightmare =-.

    1. Interesting point of discussion about how to motivate young kids to work–whether (as in your case), you make it about what they could get with the money, or some other alternative…

  7. I worked all through high school and college and I’d site the experience as being a primary factor for why I’ve been able to enjoy the satisfaction and track record I have in my adult career. It taught me a lot of lessons about what is worth fighting for and what is worth compromising, how to manage my time and interests in such a way that I could enjoy a work life and a home life, and not just drag myself through one to get to the other. I think there would have been a much steeper curve when I got out of college otherwise (including a lot more debt!). I’ve worked through problems in jobs instead of running away, and I was prepared to work in an inter-generational context (something that is being reduced more and more these days as we systematically abandon high school kids to their own peer group)

    That being said, I have a range of high school students who do work and the effects of this work are drastically different in each kid. For some it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them, it taught them responsibility, it brought them opportunities and really grew them as people. For others it drained them of opportunities for other life experiences, negatively impacted their grades and drove them to become wage slaves. For some it was like a light being switched on, for others it was like switching the light off.

    I don’t think there is a general rule of thumb, I think each kid is different enough that you really need to know the teenager to make this judgment. I think it has a lot to do with the job that they take as well, if it connects with their passions, gifting, involvement in the community or maybe even their career aspirations, there is a whole lot more there that you can take the hit in other areas for, or if the student is lagging behind in the responsibility department. But if it’s just a going through the motions job for an already responsible and levelheaded kid, the same advantages can be gained elsewhere without trading grades and experiences for it.

    1. Very interesting perspectives about how working affects various kids, and especially your insight about what to look for.

      Thanks for sharing your story as well! The life lessons people take away from working are what I’m most interested in through this post.

  8. (Cue violin music) I have worked at least 30 hrs. a week from the time I was about 14 years old and actually lived on my own during my last year of high school. Granted, my experience wasn’t (and hopefully still isn’t) common, but there are plenty of kids out there living as adults far sooner than they should be.

    Although it did give me a great skill set to carry into college and beyond, it also added to a sense of being burned out long before my peers experienced such pangs. Most of us have to work a mighty long time before retirement. I’m not so sure we need to begin the journey while we’re still in high school. I appreciate Kevin’s investigation. I doubt I would have been so exhausted for so many years had I only worked 8-12 hours. If I had children, I’d adhere to the “no more than 10 hrs a week” rule and complain loudly about my tragic teenage working years. 😉
    .-= ConsciouslyFrugal´s last post: Death to Disposables: January (Part Duh) Says Goodbye to Paper & Plastic =-.

    1. 🙂 I met a few people during college that were in a similar situation as yours, and they shared similar bittersweet experiences of independence and burn-out.

      Through circumstances, some kids are never given the choice, but I think the 8-12 hour idea is a solid one, too.

  9. if we’re speaking strictly of the moral benefits the kid will receive from working, then you have to also consider the option of internships. just because the job isn’t paid, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold value.

    i worked about 15 hours a week in high school at a video store. on top of a laundry list of extracurricular activities. but i’m glad i worked. i’m glad i didn’t have everything handed to me. i also worked clothing retail during the summer after my freshman year of college, and worked in a Kaiser pharmacy my last 2 1/2 years of college, on average of 25 hours per week. i graduated high school and college with honors. it’s doable, in my case i had to balance everything just right to gain as much benefit from it all as i could.

    1. Internships are a great way to earn experience (and many also pay money!). If it’s related to their field of interest, I think they are a great way to get kids exposure to the subject.

      However, I think a paid job also hold some value, because it teaches us important financial lessons.

      A little bit of everything might not be a bad approach during high school and college.

  10. I worked 20+ hours a week through highschool and through college I worked 30+ hours a week. Did my grades suffer? No I consitently gots c’s in english and A’s and B’s in my other classes. The C is because I hate english classes with a passion and chose to do just enough work to pass the class.

    I had a friend in Highschool who did football, wrestling, and then track. I can easily say I had more free time then he did.

    My answer, it depends on the student. If my kid is not pulling A’s or excelling at a sport or other activity like band or drama that will help him/her win a scholarship they will be working.

    side note: my Junior year of college I got married we both worked 40 hour weeks and went to school 9-12 credits a semester. Both my wife and I earned A’s and B’s in our uppe division classes classes. So it’s called dedication and perseverence.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Ben. I know many people who are willing to put in the effort, like you, to make everything happen.

      I still think there’s a point beyond which grades will suffer anyway, but with the qualities mentioned, you can at least extend that point.

    1. That is one skill (eggs) I have not mastered yet, and I’m pretty skilled in the kitchen. Kudos to you. 🙂

      By the way, just joined your Alexa challenge!

      1. Awesome Wojo! Welcome to the Alexa challenge! 349,000 is great! I really think if we collaborate as a group, encourage each other, promote our product, we’ll succeed.

        The goal is for us all to breach 200,000 or lower, and create an influential group of bloggers without pretense. The whole is greater than the individual.

        The Yakezie Group in 6 months or bust!
        .-= Financial Samurai´s last post: Creating Powerful Friends: Samurai’s Alexa Ranking Challenge =-.

  11. I’m with you, Wojo. I am all in favor of having kids get a job when they turn 16.

    I truly believe work ethic trumps grades (within reason) in high school.

    I have two kids, Matthew (12) and Nina (10). Nina is an A-student and never has to study. Matthew is a C-minus student and struggles mightily.

    Guess whose future am I more concerned about right now?

    My daughter’s, because everything comes so easy for her and that’s a good thing because, frankly, her work ethic sucks. It is truly pitiful – getting her to do chores is like pulling teeth.

    My son, on the other hand, has an awesome work ethic. He helps out around the house all the time, and loves to do most of his chores. Because he is not afraid to work hard, I know that work ethic will help him offset much of the disadvantages he will be saddled with if his grades fail to improve as he gets older.

    You can bet I will be on Nina to get a job as soon as she turns 16 – if not sooner.


    Len Penzo dot Com
    .-= Len Penzo´s last post: Book Review: Get Financially Naked =-.

    1. What an interesting dynamic between your two kids! Thanks for sharing your story–it definitely flipped the perspective on the discussion and showed us the importance of taking other factors into account.

  12. I think academic goals need to be a priority. That’s what colleges care about, not whether you worked your way through high school.

    Of course, I was a crazy little overachiever with my own set of issues. So I worked part-time (one day a week and both Sat & Sunday), got straight As and did two after-school activities that lasted most of the year. Looking back, I have absolutely no idea how I did it all. And I don’t think I would want my own kid that busy.

    I think it’s important for a kid to do some work before he hits college — a good work ethic will get you far in this world — but I don’t think you should ever let a job interfere with your grades in high school.

    Oh, and something to consider for your kid’s future: When my parents set up an account for me, they accidentally created a trust. That meant I couldn’t get money without them there to approve it. So while my coworkers were spending $5-7 on lunch (we made $5.50 an hour), I was brown-bagging it. They’d spend their money on CDs and clothes. I’d save up for things I wanted. Not only were these good lessons to learn, they meant I actually had money in the bank.

    I always tell people that, when they become parents, trust accounts are the way to go. Otherwise, the kids tend to spend everything they earn. And what kind of lesson is that?
    .-= Abigail´s last post: Sleep and personal finance =-.

    1. Great suggestion about a trust–something most people aren’t familiar with.

      I also respect your point of view on academics vs. work. You definitely see more along my wife’s line of thinking.

      I would only add this: Colleges (and academics in general) will definitely care about certain things more than others, but is that what’s serving your child the most? (Maybe it is, I’m just throwing it out there as a point of discussion). In other words, are they truly LEARNING something, or just going after the best grades (because in my opinion and experience, there’s definitely a difference)…

  13. One of my mom’s patients was on a college admissions department, and told my mom that he’d rather see a well-rounded B student over a straight A study only student every day. So I was required to maintain a minimum B average in school, and the lowest permissible grade was a C+ (physics, absolutely DESPISED physics). I’ve worked since I was 14, working every other Saturday at my mom’s dental office. I worked full-time during the summers. I think there is a trade-off, but I also think kids should be given some floors as to how low grades, which I think should be a priority, are permitted to go.

    1. Definitely! The last thing I’d want to imply is a free-for-all when it comes to grades. A “floor,” like you suggest, is a great idea.

    1. Thanks for sharing the link, Ryan. A lot of people share your view that it’s “not really that hard,” but I also know many people who find it a challenge. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

  14. When I read your blog my first reaction was, “This guys is obviously still a young parent!” After reading the series of posts after, I must credit you as wise beyond your years. I may sound like I am a ninety year old granny, but that’s only because I am the mother of a 17 year old. Don’t want to invade his privacy but let it be noted, that each teen is different. There are tons of teens who are great at hands-on learning. In those cases, a job as potential for raising self esteem especially for those kids that have had a lot of failure at school or maybe even at home. There are other kids who are in all honors classes and need a good dose of stress management. A job would put them over the top. However, I really wish all kids were required to do a certain amount of volunteer work in order to instill a sense of the importance of social capital. In an ideal world, there would be a balance between academics, extra-curricular activity, work, volunteerism, and fun time. But talk about time management!

    I am active in the school and have gotten to know a lot of my son’s friends. The comment about the state of the economy and its impact on teen job availability is right on. There is an epidemic of high school drop outs even as we type away. The priority should be to develop healthy teens engaged in positive activities that they love. This to me is what helps build internal motivation because you know what you love to do and you do it for a living.

    Hopefully by the time your child/chidren are in school there will be some evolution in education and society. Right now our kids are in distress and we need to put on the brakes and reprioritize.

    Great blog. Thanks for your work.

    1. Janet, Thanks for all the compliments! Obviously, I am writing from my limited perspective (as a very young parent), but I try to think ahead as much as possible and consider other points of view. It’s definitely refreshing as many of my readers call me out on a wide variety of topics.

      I hear you about time management! That was a challenge for me personally, and for many of my friends. And you’re raising an awesome point about the importance of volunteering as a means of getting the best of many worlds–learning the importance of working, time management, AND giving back.

      Interesting observation about high-school dropouts: in an economy like this one, where job competition is at a very high level, what can these drop-outs look forward to? It’s definitely a challenging position to put yourself in.

      Thanks again for your comment!

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  16. From a 20-something perspective (alas, I was in highschool in the not too distant past), I think that it is a very good idea to encourage your children to work while in high school.

    I started working when I was 14 (going door to door asking for donations for this Canadian Charity!!) and have been working since (not there, thank goodness). I think it helps you get a sense of discipline, of organization (it forces you to manage your time well), and to know the “value of a dollar”.

    My grades were not impacted, in fact, I think I got better grades by working throughout high school and university. I worked about 8-15 hours a week and more during the summer months.

    It also helps your teenager get into the job market better by having better developed interpersonal skills, and actually something to write on that resume! AND it keeps them out of trouble (hopefully) (e.g. if they have to work Saturday morning at the mall, they are more likely NOT to go to that drunkfest on Friday night–hopefully!)
    .-= youngandthrifty´s last post: TFSA (Tax Free Savings Accounts) Basics =-.

    1. The “keeps them out of trouble” perspective is something I don’t think anyone’s touched on yet! That’s definitely a commonly quoted reason by parents for putting their kids in activities or to work!

  17. I really like the idea of working during the summer. A lot of my friends work as lifeguards or at the pool. Great alternative to working during the school year! It’s guaranteed to just be during the summer since those are the months that the pool operates and you learn the work experience WITHOUT having pressure to align your job with school!

  18. People who have responded worked. I didn’t, either in high school or college. 19 years ago, I discovered what others discovered with this recession: a college degree doesn’t land/keep the job. When I graduated college, I couldn’t get a job because I didn’t have work experience. The C students were landing the jobs because they worked while I made the grade. This demoralized me to the point only I babysat. Out of desperation, I drove for public transportation. Now, I tell my oldest if she wants something, save her allowance or work (she does both). I’ve advised her to prepare working through college as we will not be able to pay.

  19. Hey everyone! I am doing a research paper and I need some opinions! Do you think you guys could help me out? Do you think that kids should be able to work at a young age? Or do you agree with the legal requirements for working? If you guys could tell me by tommorow or the following day it would be greatly helpful! thanks for your time!

  20. I’m glad I bumped into your blog, because I enjoyed reading it!
    My freshman year I had “legit” job, as you would say, stocking shelves… I had to work Christmas eve, 13 years old. Didn’t bother me much though. I had about 4 different jobs throughout the years, like waitressing, housekeeping, and being a cashier. My grades remained the same, if not better.
    I’m a senior in high school now, and i have 2 jobs that pay me 24$ an hr. This past year my grades have dropped, and have even failed a class, due to lack of motivation. The stress is getting to me, and I’d always put work first, because I enjoy doing it and cause I look forward to the cheque. If I have children, I wouldn’t force them to get a job if they didn’t want one… Even though there are many benefits from it.

  21. I am 21 and have worked since I was 15. Starting from Volunteer work at a hospital (Candy Stripper), then moving to a regualar cashier worker at Blockbuster. Blockbuster being my first paid job, the first few months of having that job I blew my pay checks like crazy. And on things I really didnt need. I just knew I had the money and could get it. The responibilities of a real paying job kicked in and I realized the value of a $. After about 6 months of working at Blockbuster I was able to bring my paychecks to a car dealer ship and buy my first car, with my mother being a co-signer. Then I went threw the faze of “I can go anywhere and do anything now”. Till I realized it cost money to put gas in your car to go places. By the time I turned 19 I was a Shift Manager of Blockbuster and got the responsibilites of handleing customer care more and taking money to the bank for change for the day. Opening the store and closing the store was awesome and showed me by working hard I could get raises and promotions. It was also awesome to learn that after a year you could earn PTO (paid time off). There was nothing better then to take the day off and sit at home doing nothing and getting paid. My last year of High school, my grades had been good enough I was able to only go half the year and graduate early. December of my Senior year I was working two jobs and started taking two college classes at a Junior college since I was done with high school. I worked at Blockbuster and Gamestop although similar jobs in retail, I had different responsibilities. I worked both jobs for a while, and had gotten a promotion at Gamestop. Gamestop was paying me more to be a Shift Manage then Blockbuster was. I stayed at Blockbuster just long enough to save at least 3 car payments in savings for back up, incase I lost my job. ( I live in Mississippi and the gamestop location I worked at was destroyed by hurrican Katrina, so I was saving just incase for hurricans. That way I had roughly 3 months to find another job. ) Then I put in my two weeks notice at Blockbuster and started working more hours at Gamestop. Im still working at Gamestop. I have gotten another promotion and make enough money to pay all my bills monthly. My 2nd promotion was good enough I traded in my used 2003 beetle and I turned around and bought a 2010 malibu. Currently working on my Education degree, looking back at all of this, If I could do it over I would do it the same way. I have learned so much all of it. I have my own apartment, a really nice car, and fixing to have a college degree!

    All through high school I was an Honor Roll student. The thirty minute lunch breaks or any other breaks I got at work, I brought my school work with me and did it. I loved seeing the rewards of working hard could do and it strived me to work harder and not give up.

    I think anyone can do anything they put there mind too. They just need to put whats more important to them above all other things.

  22. I’m in the 11th grade and many of the students have a job either from family business, or a close connection.

    I’m one of the few with no real direct connections. I would like to work, and I already have too much free time. My grades are all A’s and I need the money for college. My grades are useless (I’m not a genius mind you) if I cannot afford college.

    And then being age 22 with no experience is quite fishy unless you are going to eventually become a doctor.

    1. “being age 22 with no experience is quite fishy” – I think you hit the nail on the head there–no matter how qualified a candidate, I think employers would be very shy about hiring someone who has never worked for anyone before.

  23. I worked to pay my way through my last year of high school, and everything in my life steadily declined. Sure, it’s great if a student can actually get 8-10 hours a week, but a) that’s really nothing, financially speaking and b) most jobs aren’t like that. My job fluctuated massively but threatened to fire me when I said I couldn’t work that many. I had no choice due to paying tuition. If it’s a bad economy, even in the future, jobs will not hesitate to do the same, I’m sure (because they know they have you over a barrel). When the hours were slim, however, my coworkers and I fought pathetically over them. The work ethics I learned are that you have to sit down, shut up and take it, and that you need to push others out of the way in order to get ahead. Neither of these are valuable or healthy points of view, but I retain them even today.

    Essentially, if the right job can be found, then I think it’s a great idea. If not, I think it has more risks than benefits, and is a poor idea.

  24. I am currently 16 working 30 to 40 hours a week as well as holding an officer position in a club and maintianing B minimum in 6 advanced placement classes. In all honesty I understand the value of working, i’m easily learning everthing doesn’t just come to you, you have to work for it but I would really really appreciate it if I was able to take time off, exaustion started setting in my second month working, now at 7 months of this shedule i’m painfully tired all the time, I am haviing difffuculty maintaining all of this as well as relationships with other people. I understand the benifits but if I could, I would cut down to 20 or less.

  25. While I was still in high school I had problems getting a job. I never got a chance getting a job at a legitimate place like a real grocery store. The only place that would hire were mom and pop shops that pays under the table.
    I think it’s because of the economy, companies don’t like to hire youngsters.
    I never landed a job until I was 17 (1/2) , almost 18. It taught me a little bit about work ethics but I think I could have gotten the same experience if I went for an internship more career oriented instead of a pizza joint. Currently, I work two random “on-call” jobs on the side while being full time in college. It helps with gas and food.
    I really wish I had the opportunity to have a real job working 15 hours a week during my high school years but really, I tried everywhere and I never got anything till I graduated! Many of my friends had the same problem! The economy sucks!

  26. I’m against working in high-school because I saw negative impact it had on futhering education and getting into college, having zero free time and no social life – I wasn’t spending with my friends, doing hobbies or going to a gym but working and studying instead. My grades were great as I was an A student, but I was under huge amount of pressure! Also, I whitnessed someone getting fired because it was cheaper for them to keep a student!!

  27. My daughter goes to a college prep school. I tell her that during the school year she can’t work. She must focus on her school work and grades. She can however volunteer as her schedule allows in her clubs and take part in extra curricular activities. I tell her to look at it this way, her taking the time to earn good grades means she will earn thousands of dollars in scholarships. So in a way she IS working to make money. She just won’t see the results until much later.

    1. That is very true… my second semester college grades actually went down because of overworking. It’s the job that matters AFTER college the most, not your current youngster job. When I have kids, I will only let them work on weekends , summer, but if they attend a rigorous school program then they shouldn’t work at all.

  28. In my opinion, high school students like myself should not work as high school is really our last and only chance to just be kids with minimal responsibility. After high school, it’s off to college, work, military, family business, entrepreneurship, and so on, so high school students might as well relish their time in high school while it lasts. You’re only a high school student for four years, whereas you typically work in your chosen career for 30-40 years (if not longer).

  29. I also have some perspective on the subject. My father demanded I have an after school job during high-school, and I got a job in a restaurant.

    The owner liked me and had me working until close, around 10pm. The job started just after school and so I went to school all day and worked well into the night.

    There was no time for homework at all. My grades declined to just barely passing levels. I received burns and cuts and could not even spare the time to get my photo taken for the year book.

    I always wanted to play a sport, but, of course, could not. I could not participate in any school activity at all, as I had to leave school right at the bell and head to work, and work steadily until 10pm and then clean up, not getting home until after eleven.

    The low grades caused fighting with my parents, but work hours were never cut, and I was just barely able to graduate.

    I am still very angry about the whole experience and believe children should not work at all during school days because there is a chance that they will work more than they should because of pressures from the boss, parent, ect.

    This mistake is not fixable. I cannot undue the damage, and I cannot retake high-school and play sports, make friends, get yearbook photos taken, ect. I never wanted to be a dishwasher, and have no interest in the restaurant industry at all.

    Now I am behind in my studies, have embarrassing work history, and am, quite frankly, angry at the whole circumstance.

    1. Kevin,
      Thank you for sharing. I think a lot of people are in your shoes, and parents don’t always realize that working creates irreconcilable pressures in other areas (academics, social life, etc.).

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