A Working Man’s Woes

The Struggles of Balancing School and Work

Matthew Hanke, Copy Editor

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Handling the immense workload that school can produce proves to be a challenge on its own, but throwing a part-time job into the mix too? Talk about masochism. 

A job during the school year can turn out to be a beneficial experience for most students who partake in one. Earning money incentivizes building discipline through work, maintaining a job looks attractive on college application essays, and many jobs help build social skills. However, a job and school conflicting can lead to nothing but stress and irritation for some students, like Senior Manvir Sandhu. The Hawk’s Eye got to talk to Manvir about his experience juggling schoolwork and his job at 7/11.

“I work around 45 to 50 hours [a week], depending on how many days of school we have off during the week,” said Manvir. These are definitely some big numbers, especially when compared to the national average of around 20 hours per week for most teens working part-time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Couple those hours with the high pressure that comes with school and impending graduation senior year, and it’s hard to keep everything in check. “It’s hard to balance everything,” said Manvir. “My only goal right now is to just focus on graduation and put all my extra free time towards working.” Even with a focus on school, it can be a struggle to get homework done when work is looming right out the school doors, according to Manvir. “To be honest, I have to do a lot of my homework at school the next day, because I just can’t get to all of it done in one night at work or anything,” he said. When asked whether school or work was more important to him, Manvir decided on work. “School’s important, but I’d rather help my dad as much as possible and so I can keep stress off his back.” He said. “Even though I have to run the stores from time to time, it’s alright because I make a lot of money… As for school, I’d love to graduate, but after that I’m hopping into my dad’s business completely and taking over.” Even with his future career looking to be set in stone and having to focus heavily his job to maintain that goal, Manvir appears to be on course to graduate. 

As for other East students, many share the same sentiments as Manvir, finding it to be a chore to balance their school life and their job. Out of a group of working East students surveyed, around 75% experience at least some level conflict over balancing school and work. Out of the same survey, most felt like school proved more important, mainly because of the perceived necessity to complete high school and graduate.

While having a part-time job can provide important skills in multitasking, discipline and social interactions, it can also create an unprecedented amount of stress and conflict in the lives of students. Deciding what comes first ultimately falls upon each individual, but no matter what that choice is: don’t overdo it. Work and school aside, what comes first should always be mental health and wellbeing. Balancing a job and education can be a great experience, but if one or the other ends up being too much, take some time to sort out the priorities, and see what comes first. Self-care should be put first and foremost, so don’t let the seemingly never-ending conflict between work and school destroy personal well-being in the crossfire.