After-school job: running on empty, or running from class? – Work

After-school job: running on empty, or running from class? – Work – Brief Article

Deborah Safron

When a teenager rings up your purchases or serves your food, is she trading good grades for pocket change? The answer is yes, but not necessarily because that cash register is sucking time from academics. A national survey of more than 330,000 teenagers suggests that we shouldn’t be concerned about how much adolescents work but about how much they want to work.

“Preferring long work hours indicates prior lack of success with schooling,” says Jerald Bachman, Ph.D., of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Bachman and colleagues found that the inclination to work long hours is more strongly correlated with low grades and lack of college planning than are actual work hours. The results will be published in the International Journal of Behavioral Development.

John Warren, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, also believes the link between employment and poor academic performance has more to do with a teenager’s orientation toward work than with actual hours on the job. Warren surveyed 118 10th- through 12th-graders; students who felt their job was integral to their identity were 50 percent more likely to work long hours after school. The results, published in Youth & Society, lead Warren to conclude that we should “conceive of employment as a symptom, rather than a cause” of academic slacking off.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

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