By: Meredith Neely and Ben Lahmann
The ever-increasing reality of being a working adult creeps up on thousands of high school students each year who are learning to become more independent.
From determination to persistence, one element strikes a chord with those who work during the school year: finding a balance.
Carolyn Devlin, a counselor at Glenelg for eight years, noted that most students have been able to find work without it interfering with academics, “due, in large part, that for many of our students, it isn't an expectation of their parents/guardians that they work.”
However, according to Devlin, “some students have a very difficult time balancing the rigor of their courses with their extracurricular activities: long and late sports practices/games, rehearsals for school plays, robotics, and other clubs.”
Devlin said the key is for students to find a healthy balance and for them to know that their “high school experience is not limited to their academic accomplishments.”
Sophomore Allie Mize is no stranger to finding that healthy balance of a full academic and work schedule. In addition to completing coursework and participating in after-school clubs, Mize has a multitude of responsibilities as a working student with horses on a private farm.
“It is incredibly hard to find time [to get work done],” Mize said. “I can’t skip working and [I] can’t skip my homework. I just end up getting less sleep but I still turn the assignment in on time. It definitely hurts sometimes. It is hard to remember things but I always find a way to make it happen in the end.”
Seniors, like Connor Healey, aren’t free from the stress of having to balance school and work, either.
Healey’s family owns Greenway Farms, and even during the pandemic he had trouble balancing online classes and work. Healey said he’s had to make decisions between helping his family or focusing on school.
“If there was a truck that needed loading I would have to leave class to help load it,” said Healey, who also mentioned he needs to be aware of time management and prioritizing certain tasks each day.
Now that school has returned to a somewhat regular schedule, the balance has become more stable. However, according to some students, completing school work is still a challenge.
“I guess it makes homework harder to do sometimes, but it’s mostly okay as long as I get multiple days to do the homework,” said Brody Martin, a junior who works at the Chick-Fil-A in Mt. Airy.
On average, Martin works three days a week and explained that the work at first was stressful, “but overtime, you learn to manage it.”
Regardless of the challenges posed by balancing work and school, Devlin offered the following advice: “Challenge yourself in school in areas of natural interest and ability and leave room to take advantage of other opportunities: Sports, performing arts, clubs, employment, time connecting with friends in person, and quality time with family.”