Earning money has a high price

Not that long ago, I caught up with a friend who decided to drop out of Kerr and go to Taylor after her sophomore year because she became swamped, trying to juggle both work and school. She started in advanced courses and when her job took too much away from her studies, she dropped to all on-level classes. Even though it was obvious that she was intelligent and capable of handling Kerr’s workload, she eventually saw Taylor as her only solution.

Editorial cartoon
By Tuong Phi Le

The conversation went well, but I knew that by tomorrow, we’d go back to being distant. I decided to try to make plans with her. She was completely enthusiastic about it but then limited me to the weekdays because she works from 3 PM to midnight on Friday.

Not too long after that, my brother made it clear to me that I am not allowed to get a job any time from now until I graduate college. He reasoned that having a job when financially stable (which does not necessarily mean “upper class”) means hardship and less time for studies.

There’s something about having a job while a student that just blows my mind. Is it necessary that you have a job when education at this age is free, and your parents have already babysat you for the last 15 years? It costs an average of $250,000 to raise a child from birth until age 18. The most expensive colleges in the United States cost about $60,000 a year. In the most expensive scenario, raising a child costs about $490,000. My point? You don’t make enough money to be self-supporting, and it does not even make a dent in how much has been and will be spent on you. Instead of pursuing a small check from a part-time job, you should motivate yourself to do the best in school so you can get scholarships that will pay off in the long run.

Having a job builds responsibility and it is nice to spend money guiltlessly, knowing that the cash is not from your parents. But these pros definitely do not outweigh the cons. You should limit your spending now and repay your life-long debt to your parents not through getting a job, but by being successful in the long term, which includes a higher education and a career. A meager paycheck that you spend on fast-food and Tapioca should not be your focus.

One friend recently vented her distress to me about how she did not like her job. Her reason for getting a job was because she didn’t like being dependent on her parents for money. I asked her if she wanted or needed the feeling of being independent? Her lack of reply reinforced my opinion and made me wonder if she had forgotten that her parents have been supporting her for 16 years already.

Her venting also told me that having a job can be stressful, which makes me wonder: Why do you want to worry about your schedule, your shift, your coworkers, your customers, and the basic demands of a job on top of your already stressful student life? The unnecessary stress and responsibility is a deal breaker.

The worst part about having a job as a high school student is that it conflicts with your time, which can translate into your grades suffering. The time you spend at work is time that you could have used for studying, which has been proven to lead to better grades. Sure, not all the free time you have will or should be spent on studying, but imagine what you could have accomplished in that amount of time you spent at work: you could have caught up on sleep (Kerr students love all-nighters); you could have gotten ahead in a class so that when deadlines approach, you’re not as stressed; or you could have simply done something to relax. But instead, you chose to direct your “free time” into working, which makes you tired, stressed, and takes away from your study time.

A job not only takes away from your studies, but it also has a negative impact on your extra-curriculurs, something that can make a huge difference in college admission. The same friend who vented about her job constantly got into trouble during play rehearsals because she had to leave early (to go home and prepare herself or to beat traffic) or to miss the essential Saturday rehearsals altogether. And on top of having some effect on college admission, participation in extra-curriculars like theatre can help win scholarships.

I’ve grown up with one simple mentality: if I want to repay my parents, then I must do it through good grades and planning for a good future. Their sacrifices can never be repaid completely; no amount of money will ever make up for their support and the hardship they’ve endured.

Maintaining high grades and attending college for a higher education should be the goal of students, not getting a part-time job that gives a small paycheck that ends up spent. Working takes too much away from your potential in school and that’s exactly why it should be the last priority for a high school student.