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

My 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 [3] 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 [4]. 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:

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 [6])