Hard work might not be a good thing after all

Ava Vardiman

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In this world, money usually means success. Unfortunately, making money in a low-wage job while also being a high school stu- dent might implicate less money in the future, as grades suffer from a workload of both scrubbing floors and doing Calculus.
A study performed by Herbert Marsh and Sabrina Kleitman used information from the National Ed- ucational Longitudinal Survey of 1988 and the National Educational Longitudinal Statistics of 1992, found that students who had been employed by the 12th grade were found to have “significantly lower achievement and grades… [Lower] occupational aspirations, were less likely to hold leadership positions, and were less engaged in extra- curricular activities,”. It was also shown that students with jobs were less likely to “enroll in or stay in college.” The only positive finding was that students with jobs their se- nior year were more likely to be em- ployed up to two years after gradu- ation.
The reasoning behind these facts lie in the state of the shifting job market as a reaction to the falling American economy. A sociology professor, and author on the sub- ject of student employment, Charles Hirchman, states, “By definition, teenagers get the jobs that are left over. When you can’t find someone else to bag your groceries or work construction, often teenagers are the labor force you can count on to pick up that slack for a low wage. But now, with the recession, everybody has moved down. Those jobs aren’t going to teenagers.”
This is true as the average mini- mum wage employee, according to
the Economic Policy Institute, is 35 years old in 2014, has children and works full time.
This recent shift in the job market is a product of the recession that hit hard in the late 2000s. Those who have lost their jobs have to make do with those that pay less, and now it is evident that those jobs that teen- agers can get are “scraps”.
The amount of work for the amount of money made might also have something to do with the suc- cesses, or lack thereof, of the work- ing teenage student. The average amount of time spent in class for a high school student, not including homework or extracurricular activi- ties, is 6.5 hours a day (US Census Bureau), and the average amount spent working is 1.2 hours, as of 2012.
This, including the average of 3.5 hours of homework (edweek.org), adds up to a workload of 65.4 hours a week, not including time for recre- ation, leisure, athletics or sleeping.
Take the workload out of the equa- tion, and a student is still working over 55 hours a week on his high school education, the equivalent of a full time job. Now factor in the av- erage that a high schooler makes per hour in Kentucky, and it comes out to about 60 dollars a week for more than 65 hours of labor, and that’s if they’re paid under the table.
With these numbers, it is not a shock that students who work are less likely to have the time for ex- tracurricular activities, volunteer- ing, homework, sleep or leisure. Unfortunately, those activities that the “working student” misses canhelp them get into better schools, which may help them make better money and make a brighter future.
Also, parents are not helping with college funding like they used to. In the past three years, average contri- bution has gone from 37% to 27%, likely a product of the economy that is pushing teenagers into the arm- pits of employment across the coun- try (thinkprogress.org).
Perhaps the time has come to man- date that those who work to pay for their education make something that’s worth their time. Or, more re- alistically, perhaps it is time to beg for forgiveness from teachers about missing assignments.

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Hard work might not be a good thing after all