Making school and work mix

January 13, 2021

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School is a part of a teen’s life from the very beginning, whether you want it to be or not. That’s already stressful enough, but what about the students who are juggling  a job and school at the same time? How do they manage to find enough time to finish their school work, show up on time for work, and handle the stress? 

Some students, like FCHS junior Sarah Phillips, find it to be  a struggle. “At the moment, balancing school and a job can be somewhat easy, but it depends on the week. Some weeks I feel so exhausted and drained from school and work that when I get home I only do the work for one or two classes. Then I go to bed,” she said.

Junior Ryan Dunnivan said he has taken more days off work than usual to balance things out. “I’ve taken an extra day off during the week so I’ll have three days dedicated to school,” he said. Phillips works at Food Lion and her work hours vary by week, while Dunnivan, who works at Walmart, can put in as many as  23 hours on school weeks. 

How is the pandemic affecting students’ ability to do school work and get a job? “I’m mixed about that,” said Dunnivan. “The fact that I’m able to take school at home is freeing for my job. I can have more hours in the day and work more days during the week, but I find it more stressful because I learn a lot better in person. So in the end, it comes down to if I can stay focused long enough to actually do my work.” 

Phillips also has mixed feelings about the subject.  “[With] virtual school and the pandemic, you are able to work on your school work and manage everything to fit your schedule. But it can also lead to kids having to work more hours due to the pandemic and cramming last-minute assignments if they have forgotten about them, or were not able to find time to work on the assignments,” she said.

Some feel that the school should do more to help students trying to juggle school and a job. “I think they should allow students to turn in work late,” said Dunnivan. “Thankfully, my teachers understand that, but my friends, not so much. It’s stressful having weeks of work piled up because you don’t always have time to do it.” 

Junior Christian Martin, who has a job at Food Lion and football practice in addition to school work, disagrees with the idea that it is the school’s responsibility to help students manage work and school. “I think students should make their own decisions if work is causing them to struggle with school. They need to decide if work is the best option during the pandemic.” 

Even if schools and teachers were responsible for accommodating students with jobs, how would schools track this? Not every teacher will know you have a job unless you inform them, and some students could claim to have a job just to get extra time on assignments. If teachers  give students with jobs extra time to finish work, is that fair to other students who don’t have jobs? 

While this year has been stressful for many people, Phillips had some specific advice for those who are struggling with school and a job. “What I’ve learned to do is try not to overload myself, and making sure to take small frequent breaks in between working or school work, or making sure I haven’t completely packed my schedule to the point where I cannot take time [for] myself.”

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