Students learn to find a happy medium between school and work

With the hectic activities of school and ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions, keeping a job amidst the world’s current climate seems like it would be incredibly difficult. 

But sophomore Jackson Waclawski proves it’s possible as he continues working at Freddy’s while juggling school and homework. He doesn’t seem to mind the challenge of balancing his job with school, and he finds it beneficial to gain a sense of responsibility as he even finds himself enjoying certain aspects of the job.  

“I like [that] the people at work aren’t awful and that the hours are good,” Jackson said. “I needed the money, and I wanted more independence.”

Jackson has been working at Freddy’s for almost three months now. He usually spends about twelve hours per week at work while still playing football and finishing all of his assignments from school. He likes to get what he can done at school if possible, finishing it at home when he has time.

And while his job doesn’t interfere with his normal school schedule, the football season made it difficult to stay on top of everything thrown at him. Jackson found his job deteriorated his time management skills. The stress of being punctual at work and executing his best effort has made it cumbersome to adjust and maintain the necessary skills even when he looks forward to the people.

“I’m having to learn to juggle [school and work] and spend less of it on my phone,” Jackson said. “I usually try to work on homework during school so I have time after.”

For those students like Jackson, a part-time job isn’t always a burden. The ability to complete homework and still take time for breaks remains as part-time jobs teach time management.

However, for junior Jae Carlson, keeping up with her school work has been a big struggle. A fifteen-hour week may not seem like much, but between the cheer team and her busy school schedule, Jae finds herself working harder than ever to keep her head above water. 

With her long nights, the teachers have been understanding; with their empathy in mind, it’s all the more reason for her to continue working. 

“Some nights I would get home at 10:30 [pm] and have only a little bit of time to do homework,” Jae said. “My teachers are very understanding [when I couldn’t finish my work].” 

The skills that she’s picked up while working are understandably a reason to continue, and the empathy from teachers helps as well. Even with her time-consuming job, Jae, who has been working at Chick-Fil-A for three months, doesn’t mind the environment. While most people work for money, Jae also works because of the relationships she builds, much like Jackson. The opportunity to improve communication, service, and detail-oriented skills are a plus that comes with her job and the community there.

“You’re not [just] going to work for money, you’re going to build stronger relationships,” Jae said. “[Being able to] impact people’s lives, and [helping] make their day even a little better.”

The past few months working at Chick-Fil-A have helped Jae build her manners. She loves knowing that with a delicious meal and a kind word, she can change the moods of people who walk into her restaurant. 

For both Jae and Jackson, considering a new job in the chaotic mix of life and mastering time management requires effort and consistency over time. The balance between seven hours of school and possible daily shifts is tough to uphold. As students, they have to make amends with the fact that time once spent relaxing must now be used to finish assignments. 

This lesson of learning to manage time is also something sophomore Sophie Kovachevich has experienced firsthand as she maneuvers her way through school while also being a barista at Nonna’s Pantry. With ongoing activities, knowing her limits is the key to mastering her schedule.  

“I don’t want to push myself too hard,” Sophie said. “I want to try to learn the material and not just get it done to have it done.” 

Sophie realizes that the time she spends on her phone is now being used to finish up her school work, a change now that she has started her job. As she continues to learn the ins and outs of how to balance everything, the improvement of time management has grown substantially.

“I aim to finish [my work] early and use my time wisely now,” Sophie said. “Before [I got my job], I would usually be on my phone and procrastinate, but I’ve been using any extra free time I have to finish.” 

Balancing time for school, fun, and work isn’t easy, and a job can be stressful and limiting with rigorous rules. Some aren’t as lenient, and Jackson finds himself often wishing that he had more time to focus on other important areas of his life.

“I think the place of employment should realize that school is more important than work,” Jackson said. “If the student needs more time to spend on homework, the job should understand that.” 

Sophie, in contrast, feels the school should take time to make sure kids have the ability to study and complete all the required work. Having the school take into consideration the fact that many students have jobs which can decrease their window of opportunity to focus on school has been a concern for Sophie. 

“I remember one day, I had almost 4 tests and quizzes back to back, which was strenuous,”  Sophie explained. “Teachers should meet up to make sure they aren’t planning too much work on one day.”

In instances like these, Sophie and the many students at FHC with jobs find their days becoming packed full of work and homework. And for students in this situation, Jae emphasizes that finding the balance between self-care and dedicated work is an important task.

“Planning is really important,” Jae said. “Knowing the right balance of what to accomplish and when takes time, and, most importantly, just being aware of what your limit is.”