Students in high school are often called “young adults” implying that they’re in the time of their lives where it’s time to start taking on larger responsibilities. Some of the responsibilities that they are held accountable for are things like working, owning a car, maintaining grades, having a healthy social life, volunteering, all while preparing mentally and academically for college. Life can become very difficult when those responsibilities begin to pile up, making it harder for students to find the motivation and time to get these things done.
Balancing these priorities may be difficult for students who have decided this year to take on challenging courses and spend a lot of “free time” working on assignments.
Mollie Nicholson, a junior at Leesville, just received her first job as a hostess at Leesville Tap Room. This year, she is challenging herself with two AP classes and two honors classes.
Nicholson said, “I wanted to challenge myself this year because I know if I put my mind to doing good in school, then I can. I just work very often, so it’s hard to find the time to get all of my work done when I work so much.”
Nicholson, like many upperclassmen, are beginning to participate in activities through school and outside of school that will appeal to the colleges they are interested in applying to. However, colleges are not only attracted to a student’s ability maintaining good grades, and good character. Now, colleges look at what kind of person applicants are outside of school, and what they spend their free time doing.
At the same time, a lot of students are also trying to stay financially independent from parents in hopes they will be treated like the young adults they are becoming.
Emma Lewis, a junior at Leesville, balances working as a hostess and busboy at Brasa, participating in Dance Ensemble, being heavily involved in volunteer work, and regularly attending Young Life– all while trying to maintain a satisfactory GPA.
She said, “There’s not enough time in the day. I love working and volunteering, but I also like getting good grades, and it’s hard to make sure that everything is done timely while getting to bed at a good time and keeping up with myself and social life, too.”
Many students wish to be involved with volunteer opportunities, sports, and other time demanding opportunity; however, they are intimidated by the amount of time that will take from them to focus on things that they also feel are important.
This is a shared struggle amongst students who work part time jobs, sometimes working up to 20 hours a week.
Students are available to work after 3 p.m., resulting in the ending of their shift between 7-9 in the evening, leaving students with a very small window for responsibilities during the week.
Although the shift may not be long, it falls between the times that students are studying and doing homework, taking mental breaks, eating dinner, spending time with family, and getting ready for the next day of school.
Not to mention after school activities that are also time consuming. Any kind of after school sporting event will end no earlier than 5 p.m.. Volunteer opportunities can begin anytime after school. Young Life, a popular organization amongst Leesville students, doesn’t even start until 7:30 p.m.
These activities alone take up a good amount of time outside of school, making it even more difficult to find the motivation to pursue things such as jobs.
So, the ultimate question goes– how is balance achieved?
Lewis said, “I just remind myself that even though I’m busy all of the time, I’m being responsible and that makes me feel better about it.”
Nicholson adds, “I know that it sucks spending most of your time at work or at a community center instead of studying with your friends, but I’m thinking of the bigger picture in terms of college, and how they will think of me choosing responsibility over fun.”
When working begins to feel like a burden, it’s important that students remind themselves that a job is a large responsibility and just as important as a social life, and school. The average students working should have no more than 2-3 school days a week, and 1-2 days during the weekend.
This schedules allots students time to study and deal with responsibilities. For students that do struggle with getting homework done timely, and would not be able to finish assignments before work, those students should primarily focus on working during the weekends. Especially student athletes who wish to work due to prior commitments.
Another way to help balance work and school, is to establish specific days to work during the week that are preset and consistent so that students can accommodate according to the days they are aware they work. This way, volunteering becomes more convenient due to a preset amount of days that they are free from work.