Many students see an advantage to being employed, but working while learning has its drawbacks, too.

A teen boy works washing dishes in a coffee shop.Nearly 30% of high school students are employed in a job for at least a portion of the school year.* For many, working a job provides spending money for a social life. For others, working is necessary to help the family make ends meet or to save for college. But outside of the money earned, is being employed while learning a good thing?

The answer isn’t simple.

Pros to Working While in High School

  • It can teach the relationship between earnings and education. Most high school students work low-income jobs that require little to no education. This can help make it clear that, to earn a good living, schooling is essential.
  • It can teach the value of money. Without a job, teenagers must rely on other people’s money. Having a job gives students their own money and can help them understand the true value of a dollar.
  • It can teach the importance of budgeting. Students can see how quickly hard-earned money can disappear on frivolous things.
  • It can teach time-management skills. Balancing a job with studies requires students to learn how to schedule their day.
  • It can build confidence. Holding down a job can make students feel more capable than they might otherwise feel.
  • It can help teenagers stay out of trouble. Summer jobs have been shown to decrease incidents of violence by disadvantaged youth by 43%.† After-school jobs could provide similar benefits.

Cons to Working While Learning

  • It can hurt academic achievement. While the correlation between working and grades is not easy to measure, researchers have learned that students who work upward of 20 hours a week suffer from reduced academic performance.
  • It often fails to teach valuable skills. Research has found that most jobs held by high schoolers do not teach skills that can lead to any kind of career advancement.§
  • It can instill negative views about work. Most high school students work tedious jobs. That can impart unhelpful views about work in general.
  • It takes away personal time. Some working high school students find themselves in a catch-22. They need money for a social life but holding down a job leaves them no time to socialize.
  • It can lead to fatigue. Working a job and then going home to study can leave a student with little time to sleep. This, in turn, can lead to fatigue, which can impact health and overall well-being.

How You Can Help Students Who Are Balancing Work and School

As long as there are employers willing to hire high school students, there will be high school students who take those jobs. This means schools have to work with employed students to make sure their after-school jobs don’t lead to serious problems. If this is an effort you would like to help with, then you should consider earning a Doctor of Education (EdD).

An EdD program can help you develop the skills you need to make a difference in education. And, with online education, you also can work while you learn. Through an online EdD program, you won’t have to step aside from your current job to earn your EdD degree. Instead, you can complete most of your coursework from home and on a flexible schedule that lets you choose when in the day or week you focus on earning your doctoral degree. It’s this ability to complete a graduate degree program while working full time that has made online learning a popular choice among working adults.

High school students who work while in school need educators and administrators who understand the situation, can help them address the associated challenges, and perhaps even make provisions to ensure every student is successful. When you earn your EdD degree from an online university, you can become just such an administrator.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Doctor of Education degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*J. Davis, School Enrollment and Work Status: 2011, U.S. Census Bureau, on the internet at www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acsbr11-14.pdf.

†S. Heller, Summer Jobs Reduce Violence Among Disadvantaged Youth, Science, on the internet at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/346/6214/1219.

‡K. Singh, M. Chang, and S. Dika, Effects of Part-Time Work on School Achievement During High School, The Journal of Educational Research, on the internet at www.researchgate.net/publication/254345619_Effects_of_Part-Time_Work_on_School_Achievement_During_High_School.

§J. Holloway, Research Link / Part-Time Work and Student Achievement, Educational Leadership, on the internet at www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/apr01/vol58/num07/_Part-Time_Work_and_Student_Achievement.aspx.

Walden offers both state-approved educator licensure programs as well as programs and courses that do not lead to licensure or endorsements. Prospective students must review their state licensure requirements prior to enrolling. For more information, please refer to www.WaldenU.edu/educlicensure.

Prospective Alabama students: Contact the Teacher Education and Certification Division of the Alabama State Department of Education at 1-334-242-9935 or www.alsde.edu to verify that these programs qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits.

Note to all Washington residents: This program is not intended to lead to teacher certification. Teachers are advised to contact their individual school districts as to whether this program may qualify for salary advancement.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.