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Should Teens Have Jobs?

December 14, 2012
Owensville High School

Should Teens Have Jobs?

Brittni Cebulak

  Did you know that in 1990, 32% of all high school students upheld a job, while today only 16% of teens have one? With that in mind, is the economy to blame—or is it just pure codependency on parents and classic American laziness? You decide.

  Once a teenager enters high school, a kind of unspoken responsibility is thrust upon their shoulders for them to bear. They may not realize it as early as freshman year, but surely as the time passes and they become juniors and seniors they accumulate some sense of their obligation. What is this obligation, exactly? It is simply this: growing up. However, what that precisely entitles is all in the eyes of the beholder.

  Some people believe that once a child enters the teen years and the pressures of high school, they should have sense enough to begin to set their life goals and plan for their futures by obtaining good grades and planning for college. In addition, participation in sports and other extracurricular activities is highly encouraged, maybe even somewhat expected. However, still more people feel as if the responsibilities of the average high school teenager should require more—part-time and summer jobs.

  Recently, OHS staff members were questioned on their opinions on the matter of whether or not teens should have jobs and took part in a survey that allowed them to express their viewpoint. Of the twenty-eight staff members that participated, 77.8% of them believe that high school students should have jobs, while 22.2% believed that they should not. Of that number, 39.3% of OHS staff members believed that high school students should have a job during the school year and during the summer, while 50% thought that high school students should only have summer jobs. Moreover, 61.5% felt as if jobs during the school year where distracting to the learning environment, while 38.5% did not feel that jobs were distracting. According to the survey, 71.4% of the participants upheld a job while in high school, while 28.6% did not, and of those individuals that had jobs while in high school, 45.5% found it difficult to balance work, school, and a personal life, while 54.5% did not find it difficult to balance all of the responsibility.

  The opinions on the matter range greatly, from Sherry Byram who feels that teens should “absolutely” have both summer and during-school jobs because “students need work ethic, and it needs to be started at a young age,” to Joan Hellebusch who “thinks that teenagers should have summer jobs only, unless it is absolutely necessary for the family’s survival.”

    However, there are some opinions that are not so adamant on the topic. For example, Kevin Lay’s opinion on the matter of teenage jobs is simply this: “If they want to have one, then get one.” In addition, Lay made the point that “you have the rest of their lives to work and pay bills. Why on earth would you start that part of your life earlier than you need to? But, if you do work, quit using it as an excuse as to why you cannot finish or accomplish another task.  You have a choice.”

    Ryan Okenfuss has nothing against teens taking on part-time jobs, but finds it “ridiculous that students are putting in thirty-five to forty hours a week.” In his opinion, “teens should be working at most twenty hours a week, enough to pay for gas, to go out with friends and maybe help parents pay for additional cost of the student's car insurance.  If a student wants to work more during the summer, I don't have a problem with that, but employers need to understand that they have teenagers working for them and that they will need to be flexible and allow the students time off to participate in school related summer functions such as weight room and other sports/club related activities.”  

   There is no denying that part-time jobs can be very beneficial to a student, teaching both responsibility and money management. However, students must be careful with how much they work and how it affects their grades. Many of the OHS staff members feel as if students should have a part-time job, but none of them can deny the importance of putting education first. To those students who already have jobs, Tina Wnuk offers this advice: “Try to keep a good balance.  Don't work so much you're burnt out, and don't work so little that you have too much free time.”  In regards to those teens without jobs, she “hopes that they are keeping themselves busy with other activities,” claiming that “idle hands are the Devil’s playground.” Finally, for any of those individuals who are afraid of taking that first step into the adult world, Mrs. Wnuk had these words of encouragement: “Don't be scared; you'll never know if you don't try it out, and start slow.  Babysit or work somewhere with few hours to get yourself started.”




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