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Balancing High School and a Job

By November 6, 2020January 4th, 2021Student Community

About 1 in 4 high school students in the United States have a part-time job. That’s about 3 million high schoolers working in the United States.

Working a job in high school certainly has its value. Not only do you get paid, you can learn important traits like time management and budgeting.

School is your first priority. Obtaining good grades opens the path to a much brighter future.

With school requiring about 30 (likely more) hours every week, balancing that with a 10–20-hour-a-week job can get overwhelming. However, working and going to school is completely manageable. All it takes, really, is scheduling and discipline.

Easier said than done, of course.

But it certainly can be done. To help our working high school students, Primavera faculty and staff members have compiled some tips and tricks to balance high school and a job.

Tips to Balance High School and a Job 

Tip 1: Eat Well and Get a Good Night’s Rest

Living a healthy lifestyle can help you manage the stress of school and work.  Adopt these healthy habits to stay energized for your busy schedule:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat less sugar and processed foods.
  • Drink more water and fewer sodas.
  • Get between 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night.

Balancing life begins with sleeping and eating.

Tip 2: Find a Job That Will Be Flexible With School

Your education is your first priority. There are some employers who will not work with your schedule; they will try to schedule you as many hours as possible. Avoid those jobs. There are plenty other flexible managers who want you to do well in school.

Tip 2: Set Aside “School” Hours Like You Would Work Hours

One of the most important aspects of balancing high school responsibilities and a part-time job is scheduling your daily tasks.

As Head of School Katie Allison said:

“You have ‘work hours,’ so be sure to set your ‘school hours.’ This ensures you set aside time to devote to school only in order to get on track with classes.”

“Match the task to the time. Take some time to plan what you do before you just jump in, and as you do things, time yourself,” said Principal Trehal. “Learn how long it takes you to do different things, and then begin to think about how to plan your day. If you know you only have 90 minutes to do schoolwork, don’t try to do something that will take you 120 minutes. Save that task for when you have time.” 

The beauty of online school is that you can focus on school when you choose. This means you have the ability to set your schedule. Know when you can focus best, and stick with those times.

“Teachers may be asleep at 3:30 a.m., but you can access your curriculum anytime,” said Mrs. Allison.

“Other people may not like this idea, but most evenings I will jump in and grade before I go to bed,” said iSucceed Social Studies instructor Joe Rollins. “I am typically a night owl, and my wife works nights, so using this time to grade works for me, since it is not taking away from family time. I find that when I do this, the load of grading I have in the morning is never some giant mound as what there would be had I not done grading in the late evening. I try not to think of it as working late, but more like starting early.”

Once you find a job that will work for you, make sure you pick a realistic schedule. Know your limits and be real with what you can handle.

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew,” said Mrs. Allison. “Be realistic with your time, if you take three classes per quarter you need to average 3 lessons per course per week to stay on task. 🙂

Tip 3: Separate School, Work and Free Time Whenever Possible

As Principal Trehal said, “We work more efficiently without distraction, so the better you can match your tasks to the time you have, the more productive you’ll be. This also speaks to the focus part: distractions kill productivity, so being able to finish things without any distractions will really help.”

Generally, your daily routines can be separated into three categories: School, work and free time.

Try to keep the three separated in order to help your brain transition from task to task. This can be as simple as having separate locations for each place. Work is the simplest one. Wherever you work is your designated location.

Free time and school time are a little different. Since you are an online student, you can study anywhere. But to help your brain focus, try not to do schoolwork at places where you usually relax, like the couch or your bed. Instead, create a designated workspace.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t make your workspace fun! In fact, we encourage you to incorporate some of your favorite items in your workspace. This will help your brain make positive associations with your schoolwork, so you don’t dread working so much.

“When you are doing work or school, minimize your distractions and focus just on that,” said iSucceed Principal Clayton Trehal. “It’s the same with home and other responsibilities. When you’re at work, be at work. When you are at home, be at home and not at work mentally. If you do a good job focusing, you’ll maximize your productivity.”

Tip 4: Remember to Take Breaks

As Principal Trehal said:

“We all have things we want to do (other than work/schoolwork),” said Principal Trehal. “It’s best to use these things to motivate you rather than distract you. Say to yourself, ‘After I finish (whatever task), I can now watch the latest episode of Longmire on Netflix.’ Then you’ll have something to look forward to and it will help motivate you.”

“Remember to take a break, exercise and do something fun to reward yourself after you put in hard work,” said Mrs. Allison. “Even if you only have a short amount of time, take a YouTube break or reward yourself with your fav Netflix episode ;-).”

  • Students, do you work a part-time job? Share some tips with us in the comments below!

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Olivia Smart says:

    I liked how you recommended keeping work, school, and free time separate by having separate locations for doing all of them. My son has been worried about how working while in school will affect his grades and his mental health. I think that practicing this can help him with his focus and still enjoy this time of his life.

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