SCHS students working the 9 to 5

STUDENTS WORK hard hours while maintaining school work to plan for their futures. © Artwell/Shutterstock

By Clara Helm | Head Editor

November 1, 2020

Every high schooler knows the excitement of turning 16, and with 16 comes the ability to get a job during the school year. Online school has brought many changes that allow students to do many things that they couldn’t do while at school, whether it be traveling or spending more time with family. Recently, a lot of students have found a new way to utilize their time while in online school: jobs.

A drawback of online learning is the empty time that fills most Zoom and Google Meet calls. We have all felt the boredom of sitting at home while a teacher figures out technical problems or navigates the much-hated Canvas. As we have moved to the hybrid model, this empty time seems to have increased. Teachers who have chosen the synchronous approach have to split their attention between the two groups, while others who have chosen the asynchronous model assign their online students classwork and send them on their way. Either method leaves the online student disproportionately engaged compared to the students who are in person.

Some students that have jobs have chosen to use this time online by multitasking with working. Whether it be to help with family responsibilities or to save up for college, many students have good reasons and specific circumstances that motivate them to work. One extra shift can make a huge difference to students, with some families still being affected by the economic impact that Covid-19 has presented. This can leave teachers frustrated since students at work often have trouble with the participatory aspect of school. Along with that, teachers are concerned about the legality of students working during school hours, with child labor laws only allowing students to technically work four hours per day during school days. But a lot of students feel that the homework assigned is more beneficial to their understanding of the material than online lectures and activities could ever be. As for concern over legality, many child labor laws are glossed over quite frequently, such as the technical law that minors can’t work past 10:00 PM on a school day. Therefore, to working students, this should be no different. With the limited hours that employers offer, students have to choose between having their work overlap with their school or having to work late and compromise sleep.

“It’s hard having two jobs and school,” Senior Maria Galvez says. Juggling two restaurant jobs and schoolwork, Maria works every day and strives toward her future goal of college. “Most of my teachers don’t know that I have a job,” Maria says, adding that she only confides in teachers she is closest with. “They support me and they are okay with it because I feel like they know that I am going to keep going to school.”

Cecily Mitzev is another senior who has chosen to work on weekdays, and she attends at her job at Lash Spa Boutique on Del Mar while doing online classes. Cecily has been working a 12-7 shift at her job on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She said her employer is “super accommodating and did not mind as long as I wasn’t being disruptive.” As for her teachers, Cecily hasn’t had too much of an issue. “Some teachers just did not know since my camera was off, and then other teachers would tell me I wasn’t allowed to be at work,” she said. She hopes to save to one day be able to locally manufacture her patented product and invest for her future. 

Being able to work while balancing great academic achievement is a valuable skill that many students will appreciate when pursuing higher education. With the reality of the average college student accumulating $25,921 in debt following graduation, many students will want to continue to work during high school and college to offset that. With online school leaving many students unengaged and giving them the ability to learn independently, it’s understandable why they have their sights set on future plans and are actively participating in activities such as working jobs to get them there.

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