About 1 in 4 high school students in the United States have a part-time job. That’s about 3 million high schoolers working in the United States.
Working a job in high school certainly has its value. Not only do you get paid, you can learn important traits like time management and budgeting.
School is your first priority. Obtaining good grades opens the path to a much brighter future.
With school requiring about 30 (likely more) hours every week, balancing that with a 10–20 hour job can get overwhelming. But working and going to school is completely manageable. All it takes, really, is scheduling and discipline.
Easier said than done, of course.
But it certainly can be done. To help our working high school students, Primavera faculty and staff members have compiled some tips and tricks to balance high school and a job.
Tips for Balancing High School and a Job
Tip 1: Eat Well and Get a Good Night’s Rest
As Principal Donald Mitchell said:
“Living a healthy lifestyle can help you manage the stress of school and work. Adopt these healthy habits to stay energized for your busy schedule:”
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Eat less sugar and processed foods.
- Drink more water and fewer sodas.
- Get between 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night.
“Balancing my life begins with sleeping and eating” – Lauree Russell
“Sleeping-n-eating affect EVERYTHING. So I have blackened my bedroom windows and have relaxation music ready to go before I go to sleep,” said Ms. Lee. “Also, I don’t eat after 6 p.m. so that my body is actually resting instead of digesting a heavy meal.”
Eat Lunches That Will Help Your Body
“As for eating, life is so busy, I keep cases of my favorite healthy foods in my refrigerator so I can grab-n-go. Right now I have a case of Greek Yogurt, a case of green juices, 12 boiled eggs, a case of mixed nuts and two different bags of home-made chicken frozen enchiladas (individually wrapped) that can be microwaved in two minutes. Of course, a large box of mixed greens or spinach to add to my meals is nutritional too!”- Ms. Lee.
Tip 2: Find a Job That Will Be Flexible With School
Your education is your first priority. There are some employers who will not work with your schedule; they will try to schedule you as many hours as possible. Avoid those jobs. There are plenty other flexible managers who want you to do well in school. As Principal Mitchell said:
“To avoid being overwhelmed with too many responsibilities, you should let your hiring manager know that you can work no more than 10–15 hours per week.”
Being upfront and honest with your schedule before you’re hired will prevent many tough situations, since you’ve made your schedule clear.
Either decide how many hours you will work OR find out how many hours you are being scheduled for.
Either way, get an approximate number of hours you will be working and which days –
Tip 3: Set a Schedule
One of the most important aspects of balancing high school responsibilities and a part-time job is scheduling your daily tasks.
Get a Planner or find an app
“Invest in a daily planner or use an app on your smartphone to schedule your daily responsibilities,” said Principal Mitchell. “This includes study hours, work hours, project due dates, social time, etc. Avoid conflicts by planning your schedule as far ahead as possible.”
Be realistic in your planning
“Be real with your schedule,” said Ms. Lee. “If you only have two nights each week to work, then realize you will need to complete approximately three lessons each night you work. Plan to complete approximately seven lessons each week!”
Tip 4: Separate School, Work and Free Time Whenever Possible
Generally, your daily routines can be separated into three categories: School, work and free time.
Try to keep the three separated in order to help your brain transition from task to task. This can be as simple as having separate locations for each place. Work is the simplest one. Wherever you work is your designated location.
Free time and school time are a little different. Since you are an online student, you can study anywhere. But to help your brain focus, try not to do schoolwork at places where you usually relax, like the couch or your bed. Instead, create a designated workspace.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t make your workspace fun! In fact, we encourage you to incorporate some of your favorite items in your workspace. This will help your brain make positive associations with your schoolwork, so you don’t dread working so much.
“Once you know your work days, choose the LARGEST CHUNK of time to complete your online work,” said Ms. Lee. “Flush your body with healthy food before sitting down to work. Consider placing your favorite drink, candles, music, pictures, blanket near your computer – It’s time to camp out online!!”
When you’re finished with schoolwork and ready to relax, go to a new place. Head to the couch in the living room, your bed or head somewhere fun.
Tip 5: Use Your Free Time Wisely
Yes, earlier, we said to keep work and school separate.
But we also recognize that working a job means a lot less free time. When you encounter free time, you will be tempted to just relax-or sleep! Taking time to relax is important, and you should set aside time to do so.
But it’s also important to make sure you use free time wisely. And sometimes that means finding small times throughout the day that you can focus on homework–even if only for 15 minutes.
Time Management is Your Friend
“As you balance school responsibilities and your job, you will learn time management,” said Principal Mitchell. “Take any free time throughout your day to complete reading assignments or homework.”
For example, maybe you have a job with a lot of downtime on your shift. Ask your boss if you would be able to do homework during those times. Some bosses won’t be OK with it, but many will be.
Or, maybe you’re a night owl who prefers studying during quiet hours.
“Have you ever thought about getting up in the middle of the night OR early in the dark morning to work online? This can be a quiet time without distractions and the computer network will be faster too,” said Ms. Lee. “Just rub your eyes and type!”
Tip 6: Use Your Support System
This might be the most important tip.
You have people in your life who want to help you succeed. Utilize their support as you figure out balancing high school and a job.
“Discuss your schedule school and work schedules with your family,” said Principal Mitchell. “Your family will be able to assist you in creating a schedule that supports both school and work. They may also be able to help you determine how many hours you are able to work each week to allow you to maintain your responsibilities for school.”
Whether you have a supportive family or not, you do have guidance counselors and teachers readily available to you at Primavera. Your guidance counselor’s job is to help you succeed academically. If you feel you need support, don’t hesitate to contact your counselor.
You should also notify your teachers of your schedule. That way, you can get help in scheduling your projects, online sessions and other assignments.
- Students, do you have any tips on balancing high school and a job? Share with us in the comments below!