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High School Work-Study Programs

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “In 2014, 22.3% of high school students worked” (Professional). Surprisingly, this is a rather low statistic. However, that can change with the implementation of a new program in high schools. Oftentimes, high school students search for a way to better themselves in preparation for college, and this might just be the way. This particular type of program offers the opportunity for high school students to go to school four times a week, and then work at a professional job one day. Schools should institute a work-study program for students because it encourages students to get a job, permits them to enroll in only the crucial classes, and assists in the college selection process.


First of all, a work-study program encourages students to acquire a job. Given the option to only go to school for four days a week instead of five, most students would jump at the opportunity. The fact that these students would have to work at a real job, the remaining day is only a minor bump in the road. A high school work-study program would definitely persuade students to get themselves a job based solely on the fact that they would have one less day of school. Said job would provide students with a multitude of benefits later on in life. Such as the fact that it serves as real world experience, which helps a great deal when applying for a job. The general manager at Avanade UK, a business technology solutions and managed service provider, states, “A prospective employer will always look favorably on the effort taken by those who have done work experience, which empowers new talent and gives them an edge to push for the most sought after graduate positions in the field” (The Benefits). Upon filling out an application, there is usually a box that requests for past work experiences. Explaining to a possible new employer of past work experiences can really set one application apart from another. Additionally, work-study jobs can lead to making connections with important people. The general manager at Avanade UK also says, “[work-study jobs]Build useful skills that cannot be taught in the classroom as well as contacts that students otherwise would not be exposed to” (The Benefits). Sometimes it is difficult to get where one wants to be in the real world, but knowing certain people can always come as an advantage. Chances are that in the future, assistance of past employers may really aid in obtaining a dream job. The final benefit is that these work-study jobs can help with financial aid. Who wants to be drowning in debt after finishing college? The Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, explains,“Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses” (Work-Study). Participating in a work-study program during high school, not just in college, can help avoid having an enormous debt in the future. Most jobs will offer to pay money, and even if it is not much it still assists a great deal in paying off future college loans. With this sum of money that the student makes from such a program, he or she are able to get a boost towards a better education, and a better future. In addition to job experience, a work-study program will reduce the amount of class time, and consequently decreases the number of unnecessary classes students take.


Additionally, a work-study program permits students to take only the crucial classes. Most high schools require that a certain number of class credits must be filled to sufficiently fulfill state requirements for graduation. throughout the school day. However, with a work-study program, and one school day less in a week, there is less time to beef up schedules with random classes. Engaging in this program will allow students to only take the classes that are mandatory. Ideally, the core classes, such as Science, English, Math, and Social Studies are the only ones required by the state to be taken. Peter Mili, a high school math teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says, “One of the broad goals is that the increased rigor of the common core will help everyone become college and/or career ready” (Six). Because the day is less crammed and less stressful, there is more time to focus on these core classes. Most colleges focus on academic performance in these classes above any others, so it is important that students do their absolute best. Taking only these classes preps students for aptitude tests such as the ACT and the SAT. In 2005, an ACT-tested high school graduating class of about 1.2 million students demonstrated the idea that “students who take the ACT-recommended core curriculum in high school achieve higher ACT scores than those who don’t, regardless of gender, family income, and racial/ethnic background” (Benefits). This study represents the idea that only the core classes are necessary when striving to achieve good scores on the ACT and SAT. Because these scores are another deciding factor on acceptance with many colleges, it is important that everyone achieves the best possible score.  Finally, taking only the core classes allows students to immerse themselves fully in the course. Kisha Davis-Caldwell, a fourth-grade teacher at a Maryland Title 1 elementary school, talking about her own students states, “The common core allows students to stay on a topic and not only dive deeply into it, but also be able to understand and apply the knowledge to everyday life” (Six). This quote demonstrates the idea that the common core classes can assist students in many aspects of their lives. One never knows when he or she is going to need to apply a subject they learned in high school to a situation in the future, and allowing for only these core classes presents a better chance of said material being remembered. Doesn’t everyone hate when they forget everything they have just learned after taking a test on it? Allowing students to spend more time on certain educational material permits a better chance of it being committed to long-term memory. Not only do work-study programs grant the opportunity to take only the core classes, but they also assist in college acceptance.


Finally, giving students the opportunity to participate in a work-study program, provides them with assistance with deciding on and getting into a college. Who doesn’t want to find their dream college? It can often be very difficult to get selected by some colleges, let alone decide on where one wants to go. A work-study program in high school can help with just that. Peter Mili also says, “If a student who was taught how to think critically and how to read texts for information and analysis can explain the premise behind a mathematical thesis...students with that kind of education will be able to decide what kind of career path to follow or whether they want to attend a university” (Six). These jobs almost always provide a learning environment for those who participate, and allow for them to have a deeper understanding of certain jobs. The work-study job that one chooses will leave a great impression, and help to decide whether or not there is a future in that field. These jobs can help decide what major one would like to be in college, and can ultimately narrow down college options based on their programs for the major of choice. In addition, work-study programs can prove that students are able to handle several things at once. Making time for a job, schoolwork, friends, and family can be a lot of pressure. However, Joy Burgess from More4kids Inc. states, “One great benefit of your teen being involved in extracurricular activities is that they will learn about time management and prioritizing things in their life” (Extracurricular). If one can show a college board that they can handle all these things at once, while still maintaining decent grades, they will stand out among the other applicants. Finally, past bosses will be excellent future references. The American University writes in an article about resumes, “Employers contact individuals, whom you collect, to learn more about your character, work ethic, and abilities and to probe any areas of concern before making hiring decisions” (Your). When completing applications, some colleges ask for letters of recommendation to prove that all of the positive things mentioned really hold true. According Lexie Forman-Ortiz from SmartRecruiters, a recruiting software, “Employers are looking for validation of the information you’ve given them, or information you may have failed to give them” (Referrals). After participating in a work-study program, previous bosses would most likely be more than happy to write one of these letters, considering a fairly decent job was done by the applicant.


With all the advantages of a work-study program, there are still some concerns. So much  time is spent working, going to class, and completing homework, which begs the question, what about leisure? How will one have time for extracurricular activities? Everyone wants a break every once in awhile. However, participating in a work-study will not hold anyone back from engaging in other activities. The Families and Work Institute, completed a national study demonstrating that “the majority of organizations offer some form of flex-time to at least some employees, including options such as changing start and quit times within a range of hours…” (Flexible). In other words, all students who partake in a work-study program with this kind of flexibility should have nothing to worry about. They will certainly be able to work, go to school, complete their homework, and still have extra time left over to do as they please.


A work-study program for high school students provides an abundance of benefits. It encourages students to become employed, permits them to enroll in only the crucial classes, and assists in the college selection process. All of which aid in helping students achieve a healthy, happy future. Who doesn’t want a brighter future for themselves? Do not just sit around hoping for someone else to make this program a reality for high schools. Students and parents who believe that this could benefit themselves or their children are encouraged to contact their high school superintendent to make a change for the benefit of their futures!






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