High schoolers should consider school their job and should not be pressured into entering the workforce prematurely

Beep, beep, beep. Only six hours after lying down for the night and the dreaded alarm clock rings, signaling the end of sleep and the start of school. Sleep deprived, unfinished homework to complete, this has become the unfortunate reality for many working teens.

Students should be more concerned with completing their homework and getting a good night’s sleep rather than working until nine on a school night at McDonald’s for $7.25 an hour. (Oh, the beauty of being a minor and making a starting salary below minimum wage.)

Let’s be honest, most teens seek jobs for the extra spending money. Teens apply for jobs to be able to use that money to buy the next iPhone or way too much food from Taco Bell, not necessarily to better themselves or take an active part in bettering their community.

Jobs consume too much time and energy for students to truly be able to balance school, family, friends and work. In many cases, in order to make any substantial amount of money, teens need to dedicate their weeks to 30 plus hours of work. In order to make $100, it would take more than 13 hours of work on minimum wage.

According to Michael K. Meyerhoff, a doctor of human development, “When high school students are engaged in employment 10 to 20 hours per week, their truancy rates rise dramatically and their grades drop drastically. In addition, their health habits, particularly sleep, decrease sharply while their likelihood of being involved in drug and alcohol abuse increases significantly.”

By no means should not having a job give teens the excuse to sit on the couch and be lazy. If students do have so much extra time on their hands after school, they should do volunteer work, participate in sports or get an internship in a career field they may be interested in pursuing.

Supporters of teenage workers claim jobs are an adequate source of skills such as punctuality, monetary value and time management. These skills can be found and practiced in less time consuming and less demanding activities such as volunteering or participating in sports.

I understand how for some teens it may be necessary to have a job to save money for college or to help support the family, but if it is not necessary, teens should not actively seek jobs. The jobs students have access to could go to adults who are unemployed or between jobs who have families to support and mortgages or rent to pay.

As high schoolers, the first and foremost job is to be a student and prepare for the future, not flip patties on greasy grills for below minimum wage.