The Balancing Act: School vs. Work

As students enter their junior and senior years, they take on increased responsibility in a variety of ways. Their classes become more difficult, they become leaders in clubs and on teams, they hit the roads on their own, and more. Last, but certainly not least, many students become employees for the first time. The jobs are diverse, from lifeguarding to waitressing to organizing shelves at clothing stores. But despite the difference in duties, a large number upperclassmen express their difficulty in balancing their work responsibilities with their school assignments and extra-curricular activities.

Emily Garcia (’13) currently works two jobs as she transitions from one to the other. She spends seven hours on the weekend as a drink salesperson at a golf course in Upper Marlboro and twenty hours during the week as a staff member at Chick-fil-a. In addition, Garcia is heavily involved with theater in Charles County and is currently stage managing a play. “It’s really difficult,” she said. “I’m usually not home until 9 or 10pm.” And then Garcia has to focus on homework, including assignments from Advanced Placement classes.

Toni Jaffier (’13) works in retail at St. Charles Towne Center for ten to fifteen hours during the week. She often remains there until well after the mall has closed and the parking lots are devoid of life. Like many of her peers, Jaffier asserted that students who want to work will have to make a choice. “Really think about what’s important: your grades or money,” she stated. “If I did have a choice, I would pick grades.”

Unfortunately, many students are in Jaffier’s situation, where they have little opportunity to choose. With the skyrocketing price of college tuition and the costs of senior year, from prom to yearbook to senior dues, some North Point students must work in order to pay for the necessities.

There are ways to making working and going to school coexist peacefully. “Don’t try to work every day after school,” cautioned Garcia. She recommended three to four days per week at most. “If you know you’re going to do spring sports, work in the fall. Plan out your schedule in advance,” said Laroz Leggett (’13). Chase Alston (’13), a lifeguard, encouraged students to seek summer employment so they will have more flexibility.

Jessie Cunningham (’13) works at a restaurant on the weekends only and feels comfortable with his schedule because his weeknights are free. “I just needed some money and to be independent,” he said, as every teenager would.