Should your teen get a job?
Kids in high school already have their work cut out for them -- getting the best grades they possibly can.
This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.
Our recent "Kids and money" post by Miranda Marquit discussed the reasons why high school students should consider getting a part-time job. When Miranda was in high school, she juggled academic, athletic, extracurricular and part-time job responsibilities. When I was in high school, I also had a job, answering phones and running the register at a local restaurant for a number of years.
When Miranda suggested the idea for her post, I thought it would be fun for me to write a bit of a rebuttal. Here are reasons why you shouldn't be getting a part-time job while you're in school and, if you insist, how to go about finding a job that does more than provide a paycheck.
Remember your priorities
Priority No. 1 for most students is to graduate with excellent grades so you can attend the college you want. That means your "job" while in high school is to get good grades.
A part-time job may put a few extra dollars in your pocket but it shouldn't come at the expense of your grades. You can learn quite a bit from working -- I don't dispute that -- but whenever you slip in the classroom, you put a bit of your future in jeopardy.
How could part-time work put your grades at risk? It's all about time. You get 24 hours a day and any time you spend working is time you could spend studying. When you work, it tends to tire you out, which makes studying less likely (or at the very least inefficient).
Work for the experience
If you do take a part-time job, try to get one that can build skills that will be valuable in the future. If you want a future in medicine, it may be better to volunteer at a hospital rather than take a minimum-wage job at the Gap. If you want to be in sales, it's probably better to be in sales, rather than work the register at McDonald's. (Are you saving enough for college? Try MSN Money's calculator.)
There's nothing wrong with working at the Gap or McDonald's, but if you have the option you should try to get a job that will teach you marketable skills in the area you are interested in. Post continues after video about the overall employment picture.
If not experience, network
I've heard countless stories from my friends who worked as a caddie on a golf course. Because most golf courses with caddies are private clubs (and private clubs are expensive), the golfers you end up working for tend to be influential people in the community. If you can't get a job that will teach you skills you can use in the future, you might as well pick one where you'll be able to network with people who may be helpful in your future.
Being a caddy can be tough work but spending several hours with someone is a great way to get to know them.
Ultimately, I've always believed that the No. 1 job of a student is to learn. You're trying to graduate with great grades and prepare yourself for the next level. It doesn't necessarily have to be straight A+'s but what you do now sets the stage for your next endeavor. Working for a small paycheck is not going to be worth it if your grades suffer.
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