Ode to the working student

  Seven hours of school, five hours of work, and three hours of homework. That leaves nine hours for eating, exercising, showering, sleeping, and other things essential to our general well-being. This is the life of a working student: overwhelmed and underappreciated.

  I got my first real job this year. I work about 15 hours a week and I get paid minimum wage. I use my paycheck to pay for gas and the not-so-occasional grande soy latte at Starbucks.

  Other students, however, have to get a job–sometimes two–to pay for more important things than overpriced coffee. Whether it’s to feed their family, buy warm clothes, or to save up for college, these students have no choice but to work all the hours they can get.

  Jake Weidemann, a junior at HR, is taking four A.P. classes, is a part of three clubs, runs for Track and Field, and also has a job where he works 20 hours a week. On average, Weideman has five hours of homework and five hours of sleep a night. Despite all these numbers working against him, he is still academically successful.

  “It really just affects time management,” said Weidemann on how being a working student affects his life, “and it makes it a lot harder to do everything.”

  Many working students like Weidemann refuse to let their busy schedules interfere with their grades. But for the sake of keeping balance, some students sacrifice their health.After a long shift, the working student has to choose between homework or sleep, both major sources of stress.

  According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Survey, the most-stressed generation is no longer the Millennials, but instead it is yours truly. In 2013, the average adult rated their stress level at a 5.1/10 and the average teen rated their stress level at a 5.8/10.

  Parents of these hard-working students tend to blame their children for having poor grades or purple circles under their eyes. To them, a job is just another excuse. If they survived four years of high school while holding a part-time job, then why can’t their children seem to handle it?

  In a survey conducted by UCLA, they found that compared to when our parents were in high school, our workload is heavier, the work itself is harder, and there is more pressure to get into college. They also found that today’s high school seniors spend half as much time hanging out with friends than the seniors of ’87 did. Even though our parents might have had a job in high school, we are required to put more energy into our schoolwork than they did.

  Unfortunately, their piece-of-cake mentality eventually backfired. In an article by CQ Researcher, it was revealed that in the 1980’s when our parents were rocking leg warmers and pegged jeans, test scores dropped so low in the U.S. that schools were forced to increase their homework levels. Reagan called the epidemic a “tide of mediocrity.”

  So to the parent who says that we complain too much: Go do my calculus homework and then we’ll talk. And to the working student: Give yourself a break every now and then. Eat a cookie. Take a nap. You’re doing great.

Megan de Guzman, Staff Reporter

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Chart showing how working students spend their time. GraphicCo: Megan de Guzman

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