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HIGH LIFE A WEEKLY FORUM FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS : Students at Work : High Schoolers Blend Part-Time Jobs Into Learning Process

May 12, 1989|CUTIE LEE | Cutie Lee is a senior at Capistrano Valley High School, where she is a reporter on Paw Prints, the student newspaper; president of the Future Business Leaders of America club, and a member of the Academic Decathlon team. In the fall, she will attend UC Berkeley, where she plans to major in communications. She also works part-time at a dry-cleaning store in Mission Viejo

For many students, working a part-time job is an important part of their lives, right up there with their family, friends and school. Students work a variety of jobs for a variety of reasons, the main one being money.

In fact, more than 70% of the respondents to a recent poll at Capistrano Valley High School said that money was the main reason they took a part-time job. They said they spend their earnings on gasoline, vacations and presents. Some are saving to buy a car or to go to college. Others use their wages to pay for automobile insurance or to travel abroad.

Where are students finding part-time jobs these days?

Junior Jeanne Eidt works in retail sales, while senior Eric Kaufman is employed at Wild Rivers and senior Robin Swift works for United Parcel Service. Some other popular places of employment are gift shops, restaurants, department stories, pizza parlors and frozen yogurt stores. Also popular are jobs as baby-sitters, lifeguards and recreation leaders.

"It's easy, very low pressure," said senior Janeil Gilbert of her job at a video store. "Our customers are very nice because we have regular ones who come in often. People always ask me to recommend a movie, and then they rent something else!"

According to the polled students, earnings range from the minimum wage of $4.25 to $6 an hour. They often work weekends and holidays, from a minimum of a couple of hours a night to all day. Junior Janet Chen says her job at Crown Valley Library in Laguna Niguel doesn't interfere with her schoolwork. "I work 2-hour shifts, two times a week," she said.

Many believe that teachers are naturally against their students having part-time jobs during the school year, thinking the work takes time away from the educational process. But this is not always the case.

Capistrano Valley history teacher Debbie Burdyshaw approves of students working "if they can keep up their grades . . . but no more than 20 to 25 hours a week during the school year."

Some instructors believe there are advantages to students holding down part-time jobs. English teacher Jennifer Johnson said a job helps students budget their time and lets them see "what the real world is like. . . . All jobs aren't easy or interesting."

Drama teacher Keith Lockhart said students who work "seem to be more organized."

And art teacher Holly Smirl said a job "teaches the value of money and responsibility in a paid position."

Most of the Capistrano Valley teachers responding to a recent poll were in favor of students taking on part-time jobs, just as long as the work doesn't interfere with their schoolwork.

"I can do my homework there," said Gilbert, who works 12 to 15 hours a week at the video store. "It's an ideal job, right down the hill from my house. We close at 8 on school nights and 9 on weekends."

But senior Maureen Phelan, a restaurant hostess, must find time away from her job to do her schoolwork. "During work, it's hard to get homework done," she said. "It takes a lot of study hours."

Many student workers said their jobs are not related to the work they plan on doing for a living. But some said the jobs they hold now will help them in the future. Junior Nicole Sicotte said of her job as a courtesy clerk at a Vons grocery store: "It will help me deal with people better."

Sophomore Jennifer Kingston, who works as a cashier at a Sizzler restaurant, said, "It will be easier to get the job that I want because I will have had experience in the restaurant business."

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