For a long time, there have been different opinions on whether students should work while they are in school or not. Students themselves have difficulties deciding whether it will be easy for them to take part-time jobs while in school or not. Most parents on the other hand are against their children working while in school as they are concerned about how such an undertaking might influence their grades. However, a student taking part-time jobs while in school has its advantages and shortcomings.
Arguments for and against
Proponents argue that working while in school enables students to prepare for the working world after school. Most employers require that an employee has experience in the field that he or she will be working on before being enrolled for employment. In this case, students who were working while in school find themselves in a more advantaged position compared to those who were not working. There are also various skills that a person acquires as he or she is working such as dealing with employers. Students who are working do not find interacting with the employers challenging after they are graduate, since they are already used to it. McLellan argues that part-time work has a positive influence on students since it allows them to learn responsibility at an early age (1)
Proponents further argue that working while in school enables students to be more organized. For a student to be able to manage to work and studies, he/she has to be able to balance the two and ensure they don’t negatively impact the other. A student thus learns how to be flexible and can apply these skills in different aspects of their lives. This enables students to successfully engage themselves in the various roles that they are meant to engage in.
Another significant argument by proponents is that it gives students a source of income and they don’t have to entirely depend on their parents for their small expenses. These savings can go into paying for tuition which eases the burden on the parents as well as enable those students who support themselves financially to have a chance at education. This also gives students pocket money which enables them to meet their personal needs such as clothes and entertainment. Some of these needs may be a bit expensive for parents to cater for, and some may not be willing to provide for them at all. Working can enable the students to save up for the various things that they may need which might be expensive to acquire at once such as cars or paying for college. On the same, students become financially savvy as they are in a position to determine how to use appropriately the money that they have worked hard for (Cress 173).
Working while in school also enables a student to develop mature decision-making skills. According to McLellan “It can help students make informed choices about their future and they will have a better idea of what type of education or training to undertake” (1). After experience in different fields, a student can make future career choices with much ease and in an informed manner.
While there are all these reasons why students should be encouraged to work, opponents argue that the trend may be affecting students negatively. One of their arguments is that some of these part-time jobs that are given to students do not provide them with the adequate skills. “By nature these jobs undermine school attendance and involvement, impart a few skills that will be important in later life and simultaneously skew the value of teenagers- especially their idea about the worth of a dollar” (Etzion 2). The author criticizes how jobs at McDonald’s and other fast-food joints do not provide the vital skills that are necessary for life such as learning how to be entrepreneurs, self-organization, self-discipline and self-reliance, all of which are supposed to be provided for by a good job. “There is no room for initiative, creativity or even elementary arrangements. They are bleeding grounds for a robot working for yesterday’s assembly lines, not tomorrow’s high-tech posts” (Etzion 2).
Jobs that students get while in school are not well paying thus do not provide them with enough money. Such students end up with a lot of work given them which does not correspond to the amount of money that is paid to them. Teenagers who are working at franchises such as MacDonald’s end up being used and abused by being given meager pay for their work (Etzion 3).
Opponents further argue that students working while in school can also be disadvantaged if the work causes a drop in their grades as a result of the many hours required to earn what they desire. Most people working in MacDonald and other fast food joints work for more than 30 hours per week. A student working for such long hours will definitely have to compromise his studies and other important extracurricular activities, which are equally important (Etzion 298).
Another significant by opponents is that employment while still in school adds to the already high levels of stress in a student’s life. Managing course work, assignments and exams is already a burden to many students. The results are over-stressed students who lack time to socialize, engage in form of entertainment and other types of activities that help them develop socially, as well as help them ease the academic stress.
In conclusion, working as a student has its advantages and shortcomings. Depending on the nature of their courses and available free time, students will have different abilities to manage part-time employment. Advantages include having a source of income, gaining experience, developing responsibility and exposure. Negative effects include less time to study, exploitation by employees as a result of minimum skills, increased stress and indulgence in negative activities since students can afford them. In my opinion, a student must individually examine their situation, available time and need for the money before deciding on whether to work on not. Parents and teachers must also offer much-needed guidance on how to manage school and work responsibilities without undermining performance on either of them.
Cress, Katherine. Why Not Ask Students? Urban Teenagers Make the Case for Working, 1992.
Etzioni, Amitai. Why Fast-Food Joints Don’t serve Up Good Jobs for Kids, 1993.
McLellan, Dennis. Part-Time Work Ethic: Should Teens Go for It?, 1986.