Students strive to create a new path for themselves both academically and at their jobs

Students strive to create a new path for themselves both academically and at their jobs

Senior Paityn Reens feels there are many expectations one must accomplish in order to succeed in life. She feels it is as though there is an unspoken template students are all supposed to follow in order to be somebody someday: go to school, make friends, get a job. Society says these are all things that must be at least attempted in order to follow the path properly.

“I have always known that I wanted a job,” Paityn said. “Even before high school when I couldn’t drive, I used to think about how helpful it would be to have some extra money, and I also knew I just really wanted the experience so I could learn and grow from it.”

Paityn is a prime example of a hard worker, both in school and at work. She works at a local sandwich shop called Capriotti’s. Her duties as a food-service employee include making sandwiches, working the cash register, and exhibiting exceptional customer service. 

Paityn explains that getting a job is a step in life that is very important to not only be able to go to college and get a career but also do the enjoyable, simple things as well. She is of the mindset that a hard-earned and steady income is of principal importance for those who plan on entering the workforce and also those who plan on enjoying their time at work. 

“As you get older, you start to do things with your friends that might cost money,” Paityn said. “It’s always a good idea to have a little bit of pocket money on you for those types of things, but now, [as] a senior, we have all also started thinking about saving for college, so having a job is really important to me if I want to be on the right path.”

Students are constantly bogged down by the impending threat of the future—juniors and seniors especially. Of those upperclassmen, the students who already have a source of income believe that their work experience puts their mind at ease when their futures are already so unclear.  

This year more than ever, COVID-19 has altered everyone’s personal view of the future, and upperclassmen are no exception. When FHC made the decision to go hybrid for the first four weeks of school, many students worried how they were going to balance online classes on top of being employed in a demanding, high-stress field like fast food or retail. 

This new system of high school definitely raised concerns for junior Rylie Beatty as she knew the numerous assignments could get overwhelming very quickly, especially as she tried to balance a whole new way of learning alongside having a job. 

There is a sense there that if I slip up or fall behind, it will be borderline impossible to catch back up again.

— Russel Baird

“Sometimes I can feel extremely overwhelmed if I have a large amount of homework I need to get done, and I’m working a long shift,” Rylie said. “It can get stressful very quickly because we need to make sure we are constantly doing something [at work]. It doesn’t always give me time to get my homework done and that’s always scary.”

Some students, although still worried about balancing online classes and having a job, believe that as long as they put enough effort in and stay on top of things, keeping up with their responsibilities is manageable. 

“I don’t really feel overwhelmed until [my job or online school] becomes particularly demanding,” junior Russel Baird said, describing how he keeps up with a job at Meijer on top of school. “As long as I stay on top of things, I’m fine, but there is definitely a sense there that if I slip up or fall behind, it will be borderline impossible to catch back up again. So far though, I’ve been able to keep everything pretty balanced.”

For some, the new hybrid schedule offers the possibility of completing schoolwork at their own—oftentimes more advanced—pace. Since they are finishing their school day earlier than they do when in person, some students are finding time to enjoy being a teenager and are able to spend time with friends and family doing what they love.

“Personally, I like the hybrid schedule,” Rylie said. “I feel like it is a happy medium and gives me days to relax and get all of my assignments done when I am ready. I really think online school makes having a job a lot easier because you don’t have a set time you can’t be working.”

Balance is just one of various reasons why many students with jobs prefer the hybrid schedule to full in-person school. However, regardless of how different school is now, or how much it might change in the future, these students, along with many others, have made a conscious effort to better their future by working towards their school-related goals, all while handling a job. 

Students today have strived to create a new template for life—one where they are facing the adversities of online school as no one ever has before, while gracefully dealing with everyday hardships like having a job. 

“Even though times are difficult and unprecedented,” Paityn said. “We just have to learn to adapt and not let it hold us down. School, and my job, will still be there tomorrow, so right now I just take everything day by day.”