Alvin M. Abad
In modern society it is common for a high school student to be a part of the American labor force. The majority of these adolescents are more than eager to get their first job, no matter how high the wages may be. Many of their parents strongly urge them to seek part-time employment because they are becoming tired of providing funds for daily lunches, school field trips, proms, and annual back-to-school shopping. It may seem right for parents to push their teenager towards getting a job, but the truth is that they may not yet be ready to take on the responsibility. The consequences for teenage employment are often underestimated and the work experience that is acquired may be less valuable than it actually seems. Working a part-time job is likely to have negative effects on the values of a maturing teenager as well as lower his/her academic performance in school.
The most obvious disadvantage of working a job as a high school student is its effect on the student s performance in school. Many adolescents fail to realize how important their education really is until it is too late. The outcome of high school may determine future educational and career paths. Thus, much of a student s attention needs to be aimed towards grades and achieving goals. Having a job as a student is a major distraction that could end up being a roadblock to success. The combination of a part-time job and attending high school is an enormous responsibility, which may result in a great deal of stress. Employed teenagers may find themselves working too many hours a week, leaving fewer hours to concentrate on homework assignments and studying. Not only that, but a constant source of income can be very appealing to teenagers, causing many to place higher values on their jobs instead of their education. This may also lead to students cutting back on attendance and taking fewer or easier courses.
Employment among high school students may distort values toward money and bring forth bad spending habits. Seldom do teens apply for jobs with the intent of contributing to a college savings account or financially helping their mothers with the grocery shopping. The average teenager lives with his/her parents and doesn t have to put food on the table, pay rent, or any bills at all. From a teen s perspective, the whole point of having a job is to have spending money. Once the paychecks start rolling in they are usually spent on car payments, fast food, costly clothes that are in-style , and even drugs. In due time, these employed teens will find themselves penniless, constantly waiting for the next anticipated payday.
While most people recognize that having a job builds self-discipline, they do not realize that it may also lead to some forms of delinquent behavior. Working in retail stores and knowing how the security is run can influence a young employee to develop bad intentions. With the knowledge of where all of the surveillance cameras are posted, employees may one-day feel that they are under-paid and decide to get the raise themselves by taking the money right out of the cash registers. According to the Orange County study, about 30% of teens in their first part-time job have given free goods or services to people they knew; 18% have stolen things other than money from their workplace; and 17% have gone to work intoxicated with drugs or alcohol. One of the reasons why it is easy to get hired at some department stores, drug stores, and restaurants is because young employees are often getting fired for theft and embezzlement.
In the long run, attempting to work a part-time job while attending high school may put a student s future in jeopardy. The importance that working teenagers tend to place on their money usually outweighs their education and plans for college. However, money does make the world go round. It can give power to one individual and open doors for another. Adolescents come to realize this when they embark on the continual quest for the American Dream. Although these small paychecks from a minimum wage job may seem large at first, they are not worth risking all of the other possibilities that life has to offer. Indeed, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. There are sweet rewards and the end of a rocky road, but it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.