What Are the Effects of Part-time Jobs on High School Students?

By shelly thompson
Juggling high school and a part-time job has pros and cons.

High school students often want a part-time job to save money for a car, college, to contribute to family finances, or for personal enjoyment, such as trips, activities or hobbies. While parents may feel a mix of pride and concern, employment that does not negatively affect the balance between student life and work can support healthy development, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The additional responsibilities and time constraints can have both positive and negative effects on teens' grades, social development and health.

Making the Grade

Students who work in high school may not get the 9 to 10 hours of sleep recommended by the National Institutes of Health and may be tired at school, which negatively affects their ability to concentrate and focus. Teens who work may also find it difficult to see teachers outside of school hours if they need additional assistance, according to The American Federation of Teachers. On the upside, part-time jobs can have a positive effect on grade point averages when high school students work 15 hours or less per week, concludes University of Texas economics professor, Jeffrey DeSimone.

Social Considerations

Employment may negatively affect a teenager's ability to form a healthy identity or sense of self, according to psychologists Ellen Greenberger and Laurence Steinberg. The purpose of identity formation is to learn more about your true self by playing various roles in the community and exploring and developing personal unique characteristics, including values and ethics. Adolescence is a critical time for exploring which life path to follow in an environment free from adult stress and responsibility, state Greenberger and Steinberg. However, employment can also help students develop positive lifelong skills, such as responsibility and independence, as well as a good work ethic and interpersonal skills. Adolescents often derive great satisfaction from their jobs, the skills they learn and the experiences their wages allow them to afford.

Nutritional Needs

Maintaining healthy nutrition on the go can be a challenge for high school students who are juggling academic, extracurricular, social and work schedules. A poor diet can lead to overall poor health, warns the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA advises teen girls to consume 1,800 to 2,400 calories each day, and 2,400 to 3,200 for teen boys. These calories should come from healthy sources of protein, fruits, veggies, grains, dairy and fats. However, with a little planning, working teens can achieve healthy nutritional goals by preparing balanced meals to go, or making wise menu choices when eating out.

Managing Stress

Part-time job responsibilities for teens can cause additional stress, which if not managed in positive ways, can lead to chronic health issues or negative behaviors, according to The American Institute of Stress. However, a little stress is a good thing and a motivator for activities including work and school, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians' website. Getting enough sleep, eating a proper diet, avoiding stimulants and relaxation are positive ways to keep chronic stress in check.

About the Author

Shelly Thompson has been writing academic research and creative writing projects published by the University of South Florida since 2006. She specializes in content about parenting, education, nutrition, learning styles, taxonomies, psychology, health, culture and human development (prenatal, gestation, infant, toddler, adolescent and teen). Her other areas of expertise include environmental and educational curricula.