An after-school job can provide a way to save for college -- and multitude of other things your youngster might want -- but it may also interfere with high school studies. In 2008, 24 percent of high school students age 16 and older were employed, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Whether the impact of working after school is positive or negative depends on each student’s circumstances, and the pros and cons of an after-school job should be weighed carefully by the student and his family.
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If your child is interested in an after-school job, she’s probably looking for some extra funds for spending and saving. An after-school job often gives high school students their first taste of financial independence. While she might be tempted to indulge in shopping sprees every pay day, you can teach her how to use her money wisely to learn about budgeting, goals and hard work. An after-school job can help toward savings for college, giving her a long-term goal to pursue. With the remainder of the cash, help your child designate a portion for spending money and the remainder for shorter term goals, such as a vehicle and the gas and insurance expenses that accompany that purchase.
An after-school job is invaluable in providing a child with experience in the working world beyond home and school. With a job, he can learn responsibility, dependability and how to work with others; all skills that he can apply in other areas of life. Many students find after-school jobs in the service industry where they also must learn to deal with the public as well as with a boss and coworkers. A study conducted by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine found that students who were able to balance school and work learned time-management skills that allowed them to work when they went to college, too.
Working after school can help a child make connections with adults who can help her later. A supervisor can provide references for future jobs or recommendations for scholarships. Stephanie Binder, college counselor at The Beacon School in New York, says connections with coworkers can foster the development of interpersonal skills on a different level than the friendships they share with fellow students.
Interference with School
After-school jobs can greatly curtail the amount of time spent on schoolwork. A 2007 study by Kusum Singh, professor of Educational Research and Evaluation at Virginia Tech, found that working more than 15 hours a week had a detrimental effect on academics. A previous study by Singh, in 2000, found that having a part-time job affected which courses a student chose to take. A student with a heavier work schedule may need to take less strenuous classes to keep up his grades.
Less Personal Time
In addition to having less time to spend on schoolwork, an employed student also has less personal time. She will have less time to spend with friends and less time for leisure pursuits. Extracurricular activities at school may conflict with the work schedule. She may also find herself functioning on fewer hours of sleep, either because she works late hours or must stay up late to finish homework.