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Learning Experience or Liability?

November 22, 1998|KARIMA A. HAYNES

The National Research Council concluded in a report released earlier this month that high school students who work 15 to 20 hours or more a week during the school year are at risk for drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, delinquency and lower educational attainment. Those who work fewer hours reap the benefits of learning responsibility, social skills and pocketing a paycheck, the report said.

KARIMA A. HAYNES asked students about the impact of their part-time jobs on schoolwork and family life.

MARIA PEREZ , 17 / Senior, North Hollywood High School

I got a part-time job over the summer and I stayed with it when school started. Working and going to school is a lot of responsibility because not only do I have homework, I am also in many extra-curricular activities. It is difficult, but I have gotten accustomed to it.

I work at Universal Studios on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. I am a patio hostess. I speak with guests, take family portraits, clean tables. I work a total of 18 hours [a week] on school nights. Usually, I [also] work from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

I'm not the kind of girl that goes out a lot. There are times when I work and my parents want me to go out with them. But I tell them I have to work because it's on my schedule. It's my duty.

My parents think that I should be more involved with my school. But they see that my grades are good. If they see that I'm doing badly, they will tell me to drop [the job].

SYLVIA GARCIA , 17 / Senior, North Hollywood High School

I have been working for five months. At first, it was hard to get everything under control. My grades did suffer because I didn't have enough time to study.

I had an AP [Advanced Placement] biology test. Usually in science classes I get A's on my tests. I got a C on it. When I got the paper back, I felt awful. First, I talked to the teacher. He told me to get my priorities straight. Whatever was most important to me, put it first. Then he told me to talk to my boss, and that's exactly what I did.

I put in for a [new] schedule so that I [could work] less hours . . . come home earlier, do schoolwork and sleep. If they could not have changed it, I would have quit because school is so much more important to me than money.

I was working between 16 to 20 hours after school during the week. Now I am working 10 to 12 hours on Saturday, Sunday or Monday after school.

I work in a gift shop at Universal Studios. I am learning a lot of communication skills because there are a lot of people from foreign countries visiting the park. I talk to them to get to know about their countries and cultures. I find that really fascinating.

LAUREN McCARTHY , 17 / Senior, Reseda High School

I teach gymnastics at Pierce College about 11 hours a week. There has been no impact on my schoolwork because I mostly teach on Friday and Saturday.

I think it would have an effect on my schoolwork if I worked more hours. I also have a lot of extracurricular activities, and if I worked after school I wouldn't have time for them.

My parents think it's good that I work. I have a lot of expenses and it's nice to have a lot of extra cash. I bought a car this summer, and I use the money to pay for gas, save for a yearbook and prom.

ASAL SEDGHI, 16 / Junior, Reseda High School

I work at Pacific Theatres [on] Winnetka in the box office. I work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I work about 18 to 19 hours, usually from 5:30 to 12:30 on all of the nights.

I don't get enough time to put into my homework. I feel the pressure of having to get it done, but my grades have stayed the same.

My parents don't like my working because I don't get enough time to spend with them. . . . I want to work. I like having the extra cash. I use my money for clothes and to go out to eat with friends. I am saving up for college.

My parents' biggest concern is that they want me to have fun. They say I shouldn't be worried about work. They will give me the money if I ask them, but I don't like asking for money. When I ask for extra money, it makes me feel bad because they are paying for everything else.

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