Working Students Experience Opportunities and Challenges


Kathy Nguyen

Hoover student makes boba drinks for customers.

Many local students, both in high school and college, are employed even though their classes take up much of their time. This can cause students to face challenges and grow in their life skills.

When working and going to school full time, it is critical to have strong time management skills. It is a priority when it comes to having an organized and successful life. Students spend their time trying to provide for themselves while trying to keep their academic life together. Not all lives are cupcakes and rainbows when it comes to the reality of life. These students have different lifestyles as not only students, but as employees also.  

Having to put in extra hours for another occupation will limit the remaining time they have after attending their classes. According to the Washington Education, in their article, “Working more than 20 hours a week in high school can harm grades.” The author, Molly McElory, explains how overworking hours and taking long shifts can affect a student’s academic performance. Some of the effects are lack of sleep, not enough time for schoolwork, and eventually a risk of dropping out. As the lack of sleep starts to cause an effect, the student loses their focus and therefore can end their classes without having learned.

On the other hand, the back-to-back schedules can increase productivity and self-management. If a student can handle a full schedule, this demonstrates the responsibility and determination of a student, which has a positive impact on themselves and those around them.   

Linda Emma in her article “Does After-School Work Affect School Performance?” explains the effects of having to work part-time shifts after school. “Students with part time jobs seem to be better organized and able to manage the demands of their schedules more efficiently than their unemployed peers,” Linda shares.   

Gisele, a local first-year college student who currently attends FIDM, a beauty marketing and fashion school, also has a job and works at Sephora. For her daily schedule, she attends classes in the mornings and does her work shift in the evening. She explained how tiring and exhausting the never-ending schedule is but concludes that it is worth the challenge. She mentioned how stressful it can be, which can make her feel less motivated.   

“Being honest, there were times where I have lost focus due to exhaustion and had struggled staying awake…” described Gisele, as she added that the effects do happen suddenly.

If she is not extremely tired after both school and work, she works on her other priorities, such as studying and homework once she gets home. Due to taking that challenging schedule on, Gisele can provide for herself and pay her college fees. With both the negative and positive, she does agree that having two schedules that can collide does need effort and commitment. 

One senior at Hoover High, Luscious, is employed at Boba Pub. After school, he heads straight to work and returns home late at night. Depending on the day, he mentioned his shifts can vary from four to eight hours.

Luscious believes that if he can manage his time and spend his free time wisely by catching up on  school work, having a job as a high student will be a bit easier.

Many high school and college students balance school and work. (Kathy Nguyen)

Since there is a set time he is supposed to arrive at school, he claims it is harder to work long shifts and end later at night. From a high schoolers’ perspective, you must be at school at a specific time, unlike college students who get to schedule their classes and do not have to attend every day. 

“It is hard waking up in the mornings, when working until eleven at night,” he said. He also mentioned that he has missed his alarms a few times or even shut off his alarm because he was too tired. Although he had the effects that McElory mentioned in the Washington Post, he also demonstrated Linda’s claim of being able to organize schedules between school and work.   

Despite the stressful downs and ups, these are beneficial for the student and their career which will leave a good impact on their resume and college applications. If you decide to apply for a job while being a student, there will be challenges you will face, but if you are able to manage your time wisely, it will help you in the future.