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Part-Time Job: A Good Idea for a High School Student?

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: Is it a good idea to have a part-time job before graduating from high school?

A: All the research done on high school students holding part-time jobs shows that it is usually a very productive experience. The benefits include learning how to handle responsibility, manage time, deal with adults, get a peek at the working world, and occupy time in a worthwhile activity. Busy teenagers do not usually get into trouble.

High school students who work begin to feel and act more adult. And if they are handling their job well and receive additional responsibilities, their self-esteem grows. In addition, being able to include a part-time job on a college or job application is definitely a plus. Students especially develop a positive orientation toward work if they begin working in their senior year instead of earlier.

All of the positives about having a part-time job have one big caveat. Students cannot usually be employed more than 20 hours per week or their grades begin to suffer, they do less homework, and they are more likely to drop out.

Not all students are capable of handling a part-time job during the school year. A job can interfere with essential study time or important extracurricular activities. If a student begins to have poorer grades or stay up too late after getting a job, it is time to either quit the job or cut back on the hours of employment. A job will also have limited benefit if students spend all their pay on personal luxuries rather than saving some amount for future goals.

Younger high school students usually need to obtain a work permit from their schools in order to be employed. The schools may have the right to revoke the permit if attendance or academic problems occur. State laws determine the hours in which students can be employed as well as the industries where they can work.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.


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