High school students who work a part-time job are often more equipped and better prepared to handle future responsibilities both in college and in the real world. Many high school students want a part-time job because it can give them some extra money, a leg up on college applications, and real-world experience that may serve them in the future. Some students don’t have a choice but to work, as they may need to help support their families, which can add even more pressure to their already busy and demanding schedule. Whether it’s a job in a career field that interests the student or a food service or retail job, balancing high school and a part-time job can be challenging but incredibly rewarding. In addition to making some money, working part-time jobs can help high school students learn valuable skills, such as time management, commitment, responsibility, respect, and more. No matter what reason a student has for working during high school, here are a handful of tips to successfully balance both high school and a part-time job.
As soon as you decide that you’re going to be a high school student who works, you need to start planning right away. How often can you work and what days? How flexible will your school and extracurricular schedule be when it comes to getting shifts at work? How will you get to and from your job? Planning ahead is key in striking the proper balance between all your responsibilities. It will help you know what to expect as you move forward in your job search and will help you plan accordingly for any potential barriers that may get in your way.
If it’s possible, try to start your part-time job when school isn’t as busy, perhaps during a break from school or even at the start of a semester. You might also request that you start with fewer hours at the beginning of your job and eventually build up to more hours. You may need time to adjust to both the physical and emotional demands of being a student and an employee, and the more flexibility you have at the start of the journey, the better. Not all employers will allow you to increase your hours, as they often want you to be consistent right from the beginning. This is why it’s recommended to start working during summer, spring break, or a winter break, if possible, so that your school commitments are less intense and demanding.
This isn’t always possible either, but if you have family or friend support in your employment desires, that will benefit you significantly. If you have a family member who can give you rides or who will encourage you when you’re exhausted from working, you’ll deal with the stress more easily. Additionally, you will have someone to talk to about your frustrations and can get advice and support if you’re struggling at all. Finding your first job can be difficult sometimes, too, but having someone close to you who can help you look for jobs, apply, and prepare for interviews will serve you well.
Find a Job with Flexible Scheduling
While most jobs are accommodating of high school students who work, not every employer will be understanding if you have a school event or extracurricular activity come up. Maybe you thought you were prepared for your test but begin panicking after a review at school and need an extra day off work to study. Maybe you have a sports practice on certain days and need your employer to consistently give you those days off. No matter what your schedule looks like, having a job with flexible scheduling is a must. If you take some high school classes online or are a full-time virtual learner, employers will find it easier to hire you since you have a more open schedule. You can also plan your school studies around your work schedule so that both your employer and your teachers are happy.
Use Time Wisely
Time management is an absolute must of any employee, but especially so for high school students who work. If you don’t know how to use your time wisely or manage your schedule well, you’re going to have a very hard time balancing high school and a part-time job. Seek out a trustworthy adult and ask about time management skills and do your best to schedule your time out as effectively as possible. This includes completing school assignments, study time, working, extracurriculars and sports, free time, and sleeping. If you burn out by overscheduling one thing or another, you won’t be able to maintain the balance and you’ll find yourself either quitting your job prematurely or struggling in your academics.
Use a Calendar or Planner
Speaking of time management, using a calendar or planner is a vital tool when it comes to balancing your busy life. Make sure you note when tests and quizzes are at school, as well as important social events, sports practices and games, your work schedule, and more. When you can look at the next week or month with a bird’s eye view, you’ll get a better idea of how much free time you have and how to make the best use of your time to accomplish everything you need to. You can use a physical planner, like a date book, or a digital calendar on your phone or computer. Either way, make sure you include every activity you have so that you can keep track of deadlines and important dates.
This goes along with time management but also requires you to make some choices about what’s most important in your life. If having a job and an income is vital to your family’s wellbeing, you will likely have to prioritize work over social events. If you are on track for a college scholarship and absolutely must maintain good grades to attain it, you should probably focus more on schoolwork than on making some extra cash. When it comes to free time and even basic scheduling, you have to figure out what is a priority for you and focus on making sure those things happen first and foremost.
Learn to Say “No”
This goes along with using your time wisely and prioritizing your responsibilities, but it also entails making some very adult decisions. Saying “no” to things you want to do can be incredibly challenging, but you have to keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish. If you want to do well and school and maintain a steady job, you’re going to have to tell your friends that you can’t go out this weekend when you’re scheduled to work. At the same time, if your co-worker asks you to pick up an extra shift next week but you know you have a big exam the next day, you’re going to have to be okay with saying “no.” Learning to say “no” when necessary is going to serve you well both now and in the future, and it will help you achieve a good balance of being a student and an employee.
It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of working and going to school and all the other things required of high school students. It can be easy to get frustrated at your lack of time or money or sleep. But when you keep your mind focused on the future and the goals you’re trying to achieve for later in life, it will be easier to push through the exhaustion or the frustration of being busy. No matter what your future goals include, staying future-minded will help you keep working hard and trying your best in every area of your life. It will also help you see the important skills you’re gaining from being a high school student who works. You’ll learn valuable lessons and gain real-world skills that will serve you both in high school and college, as well as in your future career.