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Negative Effects of Working While in High School

By Kristine Tucker ; Updated April 18, 2017
Working a job in high school means fewer available hours for homework.

Some teenagers work after-school jobs to earn money so they can save for college, afford car payments, pay for extracurricular activities, take educational or social trips, help their families financially or have extra money to spend as they please. However, there are disadvantages to working while in high school, such as difficulty keeping up with school work, less time for extracurricular activities, less family time and added work stress. Part- or full-time work during the summer doesn't typically have negative side effects as long as teens make time to relax and hang out with their families.

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Less Time for School Work

Employed high school students may feel too tired in the evenings -- after a seven- or eight-hour school day and several hours of work -- to dive into their homework. They may feel exhausted the next day when late-night homework pushes back their bed time. Teens who work long hours tend to have lower grades, higher drop-out rates and more absences, according to Jeylan Mortimer, sociology professor at the University of Minnesota. However, students who work occasional odd jobs or less than 20 hours a week many not experience these disadvantages.

Fewer Extracurricular Activities and Less Community Involvement

Working students may have fewer available hours for extracurricular activities and community involvement. Part-time jobs after school or on the weekends may keep high schoolers from joining sports teams, band, student government, social groups or academic clubs. Work schedules might not accommodate sports practices, school meetings, games or events. Students who enjoy volunteer work won't have time to work at animal shelters, serve at soup kitchens or volunteer at churches or hospitals. Forgoing those types of volunteer activities can have ill effects when it comes time to apply for college.

Reduced Family Time

High school employment means less family time and reduced free time. Students might not be able to eat meals with their family, enjoy evening or weekend times for relaxation or participate in family outings. Teen bonding time with family members -- especially with fathers -- leads to better social skills with peers and higher self-esteem, according to a 2012 study conducted by Penn State researchers. Afternoon, evening and weekend job schedules during the school year make it more difficult to connect with family members who have conflicting school or work schedules.

Negative Views of Work

Teenagers who thrust themselves into the workforce too early may develop negative views of the workplace, suggests Middle Earth -- a non-profit, community-based agency in New Jersey that serves adolescents. Students might dread the added pressures and responsibilities associated with work or develop negative opinions of older coworkers, especially if the coworkers promote drinking or smoking or lack integrity in the workplace.

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About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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