Back 2 School: Should High School Students work?

High School

As students head back to the classroom this school year, some will be juggling their schoolwork with a job. But is it right for your child?

During her Junior and Senior years at Oak Mountain High School Whitney Alligood would leave classes and head to work at Doodles Homemade Sorbets and Ices. The recent high school graduate spent her afternoons and weekends during the school year serving up cold treats to customers.

"I needed more money to go out with my friends but also I needed to start saving for college," Alligood said.

A self described organizer, Alligood says she had no trouble balancing her school work with her work load at Doodles. But it took plenty of planning.

"You have to know where you're going to be and when you're going to do this thing and if you're going to have time to do all of your school work and still work," Alligood said.

UAB's Director of Career and Professional Development says working during the school year can teach high school students some valuable lessons.

"How to manage your money. Learning how to work as a team. Understanding complexities of working with people with different backgrounds," Brandon Wright said.

But Wright adds a parent should carefully consider their child's personality and level of maturity. Also limit the number of hours you allow them to work.

"In high school it's already demanding. You add on top of that a work schedule. Anything over 20 hrs has been proven to decrease GPA's," Wright said.

Alligood's mother suggests parents take it slow at first and keep an eye on how their child responds to the added responsibility.

"If it's just a few hours a week. let them try that out somewhere fairly close to home," Amy Alligood said.

Another suggestion from Wright is to carefully vet the company before your child starts working. Some places like Doodles, employ a lot of high school students and tend to be more flexible with work hours.

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