Students With Jobs: The Sacrifices Made For a Future
Working for their independence, students often have to sacrifice a social life, school, or nights of sleep. It’s not always an option though, as some depend on it for their futures.
Jon Wharton works simply for financial freedom. At one point he had three jobs; Hannaford, Main Street Pizza, Central House Sovereign. “When everyone started getting their license and getting their cars, I decided to get a job to buy a car.”
Now working full time at Main Street Pizza, Wharton has little time for extracurricular activities or even homework. He has a mere 3 hours after school before going to work. “I get home and usually take a nap, or just rest before going to work. When I get home at ten, I do my homework and then go to bed.”
One thing Wharton knows how to do is manage his money. Within a few months into his new job, he was able to buy his first car. “It’s more satisfying to have a big bank account than to just go and spend your money on unnecessary things.”
Although Wharton is helping pay his college tuition, it’s not one of his priorities. His parents didn’t expect him to get a job; he just wanted financial freedom. “I just got a job out of my own self motivation; I’m just a hard working person,” Wharton said.
Social Studies and Creative Writing teacher Mary Beth Ryan believes a job affects her student’s academic success.“They really don’t have a lot of free time. It’s like playing a sport, but even more so because the commitment is out of their control, and I don’t think employers are as respectful as coaches would be of students being students.”
Junior Stephanie Ogar is a cheerleading captain, and she currently has one job at a clothing store, Arie. “I got the job because I wanted money. I knew if I had money I could do more.”
Working at a clothing store, shopping is practically inevitable. “I’m really addicted to shopping,” Ogar said. “We get a really big discount, 40% and sometimes 50% off, so that brings me to buy a lot more than I should when I’m working. Especially when I’m around it all the time. I just want to spend all my money because there are such cute clothes.”
When she ran into a friend at the orthodontist who is a manager at Arie, Ogar was told about the job. She was quick to apply. “She told me she could possibly get me a job, so I went and applied. A week after I turned sixteen I got the job.”
In addition to having two younger sisters, Ogar’s mother is currently going to school. “I have to pay for as much as I can. My mom is in school now, and I’m one of three children, so my parents already have a lot on their hands. Right when my mom’s done I’m going to be going into college. It’s not expected of me, but I’m going to try to do as much as I can for my parents because they’re already doing a lot right now.”
Like most students who have jobs, Ogar is sleep deprived. During cheer season, she manages to fit five to six hours of sleep. “I pretty much don’t sleep. I’ll get a few hours of sleep at night, and it’s not healthy for me, but you gotta do what you gotta do.”
When she’s not working, cheering, or doing homework, she makes an effort to hang out with friends, taking away any extra moments of sleep she has left.
“I take weekends for my social life because I don’t have time during the week to do that. I’m usually out with friends, so I’ll get the normal 8 hours of sleep, but I do have busy weekends because I’m always with my friends, doing homework, or working.”
Sue Bowen, the school’s nurse, is no stranger to sleep-deprived students. “We’ll have kids who want to go home to sleep for a little bit because they have a job. It’s hard because some of those kids have to contribute financially to their families.”
With many psychological and physical effects, such as headaches, memory loss, increased blood pressure, irritability and even hallucinations, Bowen strongly recommends a good night sleep. “You’re better off getting a good night sleep every night. It takes a while to get caught up when you lose sleep. It’s not just that you feel unwell; you actually are doing a disservice to your body.”
Senior Brian Sousa would go nights with as little as four hours of sleep because of his job at a restaurant. “I work late hours. So I would go home and have to do homework until two in the morning, and then wake up at six. I would lose a lot of sleep, but I just dealt with it. It was either that or not go to college, so I would rather lose some sleep.”
He works two jobs and is now applying for a third in order to pay for college. “I first got a job because I needed to pay for college, and to help support my family. Now I’m applying for another job because I have absolutely no money saved up for college, and I have to pay it for myself,” Sousa said.
Sousa does what he can to help his parents. “I pay for most of the grocery shopping because I cook, so I know what to buy.”
He’s not only had to sacrifice sleep, but also many things most teens don’t go without. “I don’t go to the movies. I don’t go shopping. I don’t do stuff like that. If I hang out with friends I do very inexpensive things. I don’t spend money on myself.”
Although sleep deprivation and late homework assignments often are the result of a student getting a job, having a job may have its pros. It pushed Ogar into scenarios she wouldn’t have gone through in school alone. “It’s made me a more mature person, because at my job you are required to engage with customers and be able to make conversation with them. I believe that’ll help me for the rest of my life because now I’m a lot more comfortable speaking to whomever.”
She now feels ready for whatever is ahead of her, with a much greater appreciation towards the money she spends.“It’s made me get a little bit of reality. What I’m going to go through when I’m older. I have to pay for stuff myself, and I realize that it stinks. You have to work for everything you do instead of having your parents give it all to you.”
Jon Wharton will continue working as he attends Quinsigamond Community College, and Stephanie Ogar is on the search for one more job as she prepares for her senior year. Brian Sousa plans on going to Framingham State for business and later transferring to Johnson & Wales for culinary arts in hopes of someday opening his own restaurant.
Some sacrifices were big, others were very minor, but in the end it all leads down to one goal, financial freedom.
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