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Kids and Money: The Importance of a Job in High School

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High School JobMy first job, beyond babysitting, was working as a cashier at a craft store. I worked part-time, juggling homework, participation on the swimming and tennis teams, involvement in three different band organizations, efforts on the academic team, and 4-H. After trying to work around my schedule became too difficult, I quit and became my own boss, teaching piano lessons on my least busy days.

Working in high school was probably one of the reasons that I had a sprinkling of Bs, rather than getting straight As. However, my extracurricular activities played a role in the number of scholarship offers I received; my lack of a 4.0 didn’t stop me from having my college paid for. And my experiences with holding a job during high school provided me with valuable insight that has served me well later in life. Encouraging your child to work a part-time job during high school might be one of the best things you can do for him or her.

Lessons Learned from a High School Job

There are a number of lessons that you can learn from a high school job. My two different work experiences taught me that I enjoy being my own boss much more than I enjoy working for “the man.” Additionally, I learned that it is possible to work from home, and leverage your talents into a career. My husband had a high school job at a local grocery store. Talking to co-workers who had been employed by the store for 10 to 20 years, and realizing that he wouldn’t be able to do much more than work at the grocery store for life, motivated him to create a plan to receive an education so he could get a better job and increase his earning power.

Other lessons that your children can learn from working a job in high school include:

  • The value of hard work.
  • The value of a dollar.
  • How to budget an income.
  • Life isn’t a free ride.
  • The power of compound interest, if he or she opens an IRA.
  • How to fulfill responsibility and become a reliable person.
  • Time management.

These are valuable lessons that can carry over to the rest of your child’s life. If you expect your child to take on some of the responsibility of paying for entertainment, and extracurricular costs, he or she will quickly learn how to prioritize spending, and how to budget money. Teenagers can also learn important lessons about getting things done, and managing their time wisely so that they can get everything done. Working in high school can also provide a dose of reality: Most of us have to work in some capacity in order to get the things we need and want.

What About Grades?

It is possible to maintain a respectable GPA, be involved in some activities (I might have over-taxed myself), and still hold a high school job. I think that the lessons learned by working a high school job are worth getting the occasional B. Increasingly, showing that you are a well-rounded person, and not just a straight-A student, is becoming important when you apply for scholarships. Once your child moves beyond high school, and starts doing other things, the life lessons learned from a high school job will seem much more valuable than a 4.0.

What do you think of holding a high school job? What did your first job teach you?

(Photo: friedmanlynn)

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9 Responses to “Kids and Money: The Importance of a Job in High School”

  1. poscogrubb says:

    My first regular “job” wasn’t until the summer after freshman year of college. My parents didn’t believe their children should have jobs; their job was to support us all the way through our education-years, and our job was to learn and study.

    However, during high school, my brothers and I did play music at several gigs, earning several hundred dollars per night. But it was not a job with regular hours, and that activity got scaled back during my senior year in high school as things got busy with my AP classes.

    Extracurricular activities are what you make of them. You can flip burgers. Or you can learn life lessons while flipping burgers. You can play the violin, or you can learn life lessons while playing the violin.

  2. DIY Investor says:

    All 3 of my children worked waiting tables at popular restaurants which I think is an excellent job for young people. Besides the money a good waiter/waitress makes and all the skills required it gives the parent the satisfaction of knowing that their child can go to any major city and have money in their pocket that night.

  3. Shirley says:

    One of our sons was ‘all about cars’ from 10 years old on. He had his Drivers’ License before noon on the day of his 16th birthday and was thrilled to land an after school job as an order filler and deliveryman for a local retail parts company.

    This was truly his passion and as long as his grades didn’t suffer, it was perfect for him. He learned all he could about cars, parts, rebuilding (and when not to), people skills, life skills, customer service and teamwork. He now manages three service depts for a large dealership in CA.

    This high school job certainly paid off in life lessons and sought after knowledge.

  4. I definitely having some kind of job in high school is a must, especially if parents make the kids use only the money they earn to do things like put gas in the car.

    I had a job as soon as I was eligible to and my parents made sure that if I wanted something that it came out of my paycheck. It never impacted my grades really, if anything it made me more focused.

  5. Blargle says:

    My high school was way too difficult to even think about holding a job! Summer jobs throughout high school can teach kids many of the same lessons as jobs during the year.

  6. Strebkr says:

    I think its important to have a job so long as it doesn’t interfere with school. If you play sports or have after school activities then I believe you should do those. Take the job during a season when you might not be playing sports. I think its just important to be doing something and not sitting around. Job, after school club, sports, something to make you self better.

  7. Jplm9 says:

    No doubt working and managing school and activities will prepare a child for the doing multiple activities. But is not the commitment to doing ones best, no task is to is beneath you and respect and consideration the real lessons. Grades are important, but when that is the goal, the lesson of challenging your personal best becomes lost. Make the “A” and move on doesn’t teach the child the lesson that will sustain them through life’s challenges. Experiences gain quality when taught by an involved commited parent however the child learns it. That is what will prepare them for a meaningful life – in my opinion..

  8. nichole says:

    When I was a freshman in highschool I had a job but only b/c I wanted too, and I wasnt a after school activity person. I think it all depends, some parents push a kid to have a job so much where it comes to the point the kid is giving stuff up. My daughter for example is a cheerleader, she loves it, now practice is every day of the week, if she was to get a job it would be after school now as a parent am i suppose to expect her to give up something she is passionate for to go get a job, when she will be working the rest of her life anyways, no I dont feel like that is right. They are kids, you only get to be that once, let them enjoy it and do our jobs as parents to support and raise them.


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