Students Who Work


Does having an afterschool job impair students school life or not?  

High school is hard.  Everyone knows that.  At the end of the day, many high schoolers want to go home, curl up into a ball, and sleep.  However, for some the end of the long school day, is the beginning of a brand new work day. These students must juggle that quintessential work-life balance while still in school.  While an after school job can add stress and pressure to the already busy lives of students, it also offers up a source of income, newfound maturity, and responsibility.

Junior Alec Sautter, works three days a week from four to eleven pm at the Burlingame Fred Meyer.  “My main job is to keep the inside of the store looking nice,” he said.

Not surprisingly his main motivation is money. Alec said, “I plan to keep on working there until I get a better job, or I may even work there through college,” he said.  

Unlike Alec, Senior Clare Reilly balances three after school jobs; she works at the Southwest Community Center teaching the Mommy and Me swim classes, she tutors a fourth and second grader, and she nannies full time during the summer and on weekends.  “I teach the six month olds to three year olds how to swim.  I lead songs and games and activities [for them],” she said of her Mommy and Me swim class. “I help with math and reading [for the kids I tutor],” she said of her swimming class and her tutoring job.  As a senior, Clare is now well adjusted to the routine of an afterschool job. “I have been working at the community center for two and a half years and plan to work there through the summer.  I have been tutoring all of this year and I have been nannying since I was eleven,” said Clare.

According to a study done by the Center for Market Labor Studies at Northeastern University, employed students who are economically disadvantaged were less likely to drop out of high school than their unemployed counterparts.  In the same study, researchers found that students enrolled in a “high school to career” program with a work experience counterpart were more likely to enroll in college post high school.  In general, students who received some work experience in high school are more likely to graduate high school and enroll in college.

“I feel like it has made me more mature,” said Clare of her three jobs.  “Working for your own money leads you to take care of yourself.”  She also said that having a high school job has made her more accountable for her own actions. “I think it is really beneficial to anyone to have a part time job in high school.”  

On the other hand, a study published by The American Educational Research Journal, found that students who work more than four hours every day after school and on the weekend during high school have been found to have lower academic scores than their peers.  The study went on to say that the students also had lower attendance rates, lower educational and career aspirations, and were less likely to be involved in extracurricular activities.  The students who worked longer hours were also more likely to engage in negative behaviours such as drugs and alcohol.  Though these problems seem like a reason for high schoolers to stay out of the work force, dropping out and engaging in negative behaviours seem to only affect students who worked excessively.  The occasional low stress job, like the jobs of Clare and Alec, have a positive impact on students as they are more likely than their peers to graduate and enroll in college.

Even with the added stress of a job to their school day, both Clare and Alec appreciate their work.  “I enjoy it quite a bit,” said Alec of his job at Fred Meyer.  “It’s just a nice thing to do.”  As for Clare, she said, “I love my job a lot.  I want to be a teacher [when I grow up, and] all of these thing help [with that].”  Overall, a part-time job allows students, like Clare Riley, and countless others to grow outside of school.  For most students who work, their jobs allow them to gain maturity, responsibility, and valuable insight into the adult world.

Words by Veronica Adams
According to Oregon law, student journalists are responsible for determining the content of this publication, except under limited circumstances. The subject matter, content and views of the news, features and opinion sections in this paper do not reflect the views of Portland Public Schools or Woodrow Wilson High School.