High school jobs unnecessary for success, happiness

Alex Ladan, columnist

Classes. Extracurriculars. Sports. Work. All of these things cohesively make up my life as a high schooler. Well, work starts in the summer, but it will be one more thing added to my to-do list.

Students often feel obligated to add an enormous amount of activities to their schedules to appear more well-rounded on college applications. Getting a job is frequently seen as a sign of responsibility. It can convey the connotation that the student can balance the stresses of school and a job effectively. A few weeks ago, after a meeting with John Klasen, director of college counseling, I began to think about my plans for the summer. A few summers ago I was overbooked with activities; however, last summer I had needless amounts of free time.

In both of those summers, I spent time coaching rhythmic gymnastics. I took the younger gymnasts to the pool, helped them run routines and work on their skills. I was misled to believe that I would be receiving pay for the work I was doing; my coach was under the impression that I was volunteering my time. After that summer, I lacked the motivation to begin working again because I was too afraid to talk to my coach about receiving pay.

However, this summer I decided that it was time for me to become independent. By the time junior year rolls around, many students have this mindset of wanting to become as independent as possible. It may have to do with the way the teenage brain works or with situations at home.

In my case, while growing up, my parents made me work for and earn what I wanted. Whether that be ice cream as a kid or Lollapalooza tickets as a teenager, there would be some task and motivation leading up to it. A big change this year was my parents’ decision to add me to their credit card.

As any high schooler would be, I was ecstatic! No more having to ask my dad for cash every time I wanted to get mac and cheese from Noodles and Company. But little did I know, my dad was tracking my expenses. I began to question every item bought. Hmm… I thought. Is this eight dollar Mingle Acai Bowl really worth it?

Fed up with the constant anxiety, I decided that I wanted to be able to buy Liquid, new shoes and pay for my ACT registration on my own. So, what better way to do so than to get a job?

Everyone has one, I thought to myself. I must get one. The search began and ended pretty quickly. I decided to apply to be a lifeguard at Valley Lo.

I filled out the application one weekend. Are you a felon? No. What is your greatest accomplishment in life? N/A. An hour later I hit submit. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders until I realized that did not mean I was guaranteed the position. I received an email back requesting a time for an interview! I GOT THE JOB! Or so I thought. Nope.

More stress built up as I raced from the chaotic South senior parking lot in hopes of making it across the construction bridge and to Valley Lo in under 11 minutes. I made it in time. Minutes later I was called to my interview. Nailed it, I thought to myself.

I waited anxiously refreshing my Gmail at every stoplight home. I got the job! Nope. You must pass the lifeguarding preparation and CPR class. The stress buildup continued on this February job hunt. I looked at the date. February 28th. I was searching for a job when there were still flurries outside.

At that moment, I realized how unnecessary it was. Similar to this situation, many students have become caught up in conforming to society; they forget what is real. The main priority in life is one’s happiness and a big part of that stems from spending time with family, friends and doing well in school.

While I decided to search for a job this summer, students should not feel obligated to work while in high school. Working should be enjoyable and should be added to your schedule if you have the free time. In certain cases, however, it is necessary to work to support a family. That requires an immense amount of responsibility in order to balance school and work.

But hey! At least now I can pay for my Lolla ticket. I got the job!