In 2020, about 17.6% of American teenagers were employed while still enrolled in high school (“Youth Enrolled in School and Working”). Finding a job while still studying in school is an appealing prospect for many high schoolers. Since they have no conception of what working entails due to lack of experience, they are attracted by the thought of more money without regard for the consequences. However, balancing a minimum-wage job with studying can negatively affect students’ health, social life, and college prospects. I believe students do not benefit from working, and I will illustrate my reasons in this essay.
Firstly, working is very time-consuming and can become distracting. If the average part-time job amounts to twenty hours and most American children spend forty-five on school and homework, it would mean a high schooler spends 65 hours either studying or working. This exhausting effort can lead to increased stress levels, lack of sleep, and health issues such as constant headaches from overwork. Furthermore, it would be difficult to make time for rest or family and friends, which is an important facet of teenagers’ psychological and emotional well-being. Working while studying demands a lot of time and effort, leading to increased stress, health problems, and lack of socialization.
Secondly, working while studying may lead to decreased school performance because teenagers do not have the resources to dedicate the time and energy schoolwork requires if they are already exhausted from work. Jobs cut into time that could be spent on homework, reading, or preparing for exams. Additionally, teenagers are encouraged to enroll in honors and AP programs, community service, and extracurriculars to get into high-ranking colleges (Dowd). It would be almost impossible to balance these activities with work. Therefore, working can lead to bad grades and an unsatisfactory resume, ultimately hurting high schoolers’ chances of getting into a good college or gaining a scholarship.
Thirdly, since teenagers generally do not have any work experience, they are forced to take entry-level jobs that pay only minimum wage. The U.S. federal minimum wage, which amounts to 7.25 USD per hour, is already considered unlivable (Amadeo). Moreover, many employers are not obligated to pay the minimum if the employee is under a certain age. Having a job also entails additional costs such as transportation, meals, and work clothes (Dowd). Therefore, teenagers do not make much money, especially to justify the work-study imbalance, accompanying stress levels, and decreased college prospects.
There are many benefits to working while studying, but they are not enough to legitimize the disadvantages. It has been pointed out that working can help high schoolers gain real-world experience, accumulate new skills, and attain self-confidence (Dowd). However, since most students are forced to take minimum-wage jobs such as retail or food service, the usefulness of acquired skills for their future careers is doubtful. Additionally, exhaustion and burnout are far more likely results of work-study than self-confidence. To obtain the advantages of working without suffering the drawbacks, students should pursue summer jobs.
In conclusion, working while studying is an important decision high schoolers should approach with a thorough evaluation of all the advantages and disadvantages. While the prospect of money may be appealing, they should be aware that working is a time-consuming demand that may lead to exhaustion, stress, and suffering in social life. Furthermore, it may hurt future college prospects, and high schoolers generally do not gain much skills or money because they are forced to take entry-level jobs below the minimum wage. Generally, I do not believe the benefits of working justify the risks.
Amadeo, Kimberly. “Living Wage and How It Compares to the Minimum Wage: How Much Do You Need to Live in America?” The Balance. 2020. Web.
Dowd, Mary. “Advantages & Disadvantages of Working While Going to School.” The Classroom, 2019. Web.
“Youth Enrolled in School and Working.” Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Web.