Students and Part-Time Work

Helping your students decide whether to work during high school is an important discussion that affects their success in high school and beyond.

For some students, especially those in traditionally underserved populations, taking a job is not a matter of choice, but necessity. They need to work to save for college or even to supplement family income. Counselors should help students who have a real need to work improve time-management skills and seek employment that helps their educational goals.


Students who work are more confident and possess better time-management skills than students who are not employed. In addition to offering a paycheck, some independence, and satisfaction, a part-time job can provide both training and experience. Employment teaches students about responsibility and can also reinforce what they are learning in school. Employers can also write recommendation letters for the students who’ve worked for them.


On the other hand, students who work more than 15 to 20 hours per week often experience decreased school success, which can lead to dropping out entirely. Working long hours can also limit opportunities to build friendships and explore interests that enhance intellectual and emotional development.

Advising Your Students

Drawing out your students' interests and goals is an important part of helping them understand the responsibility of having a job during high school. Your students may find it helpful to ask themselves:

  • Am I flexible and willing to make sacrifices? Am I open to cutting down on some of the things I like to do to fulfill my school and work commitments?
  • How does my family feel about me working?
  • Do I make effective use of my time? For example, am I the type of person who can complete reading assignments while waiting in line or riding the bus?
  • Can I fit in work, maintain my grades, and still get enough sleep?
  • If I work, will I still have enough time to spend with my family and friends?
  • Will the job be flexible around study and exam commitments?

Finding Balance

The major point that students should keep in mind is the importance of balance. If working will interfere with completing schoolwork, participating in extracurricular activities, spending time with family and friends or getting enough rest, it may not be a wise decision.