Weighed down

Students with jobs struggle to stay afloat and deserve compassion


Chloe Bockhorst

Many students struggle with completing their homework – both at home and school – after studying, working, and playing sports. Students’ jobs often add a pile of stress to their everyday experience.

Megan Percy, Discover editor

Your first job is an important milestone. It’s the first time you have a boss, the first time you get interviewed, the first time you have some real world responsibility. When I got my first job, I couldn’t wait to start; to get paid, to get a taste of the adult reality I will be pushed into in a short two years. I felt so ready to be treated as more than a little kid, to finally earn my seat at the grown-up table. I was ready.

At first, I managed. Juggling one AP course proved to be a challenge, as I expected. I thought it was a hurdle at the time, something I could jump over, get through and just move forward with. After starting work mid-second semester, I finished the year with fair grades and a three on the AP test. I was fine.

The trouble started this year; my adult immersion has been taken to another level along with my fellow high-achieving peers. College, sports, clubs and now multiple AP courses, something that is new to some of us, are now all up for rapid consideration. Our futures are jetpacking at our faces, and in the midst of that, we, the working class, find our surroundings unforgiving.

Some teachers, for instance, just don’t seem to care. I have much respect for teachers, but when I see my fellow students falling asleep in classes, struggling to complete an overwhelming amount of work, trying to tread the treacherous waters of their own lives, and see some staff members choose to turn the other cheek, I can’t help feeling like we have been forgotten. Teachers are there to teach content, to make us understand, to enlighten us. But I see a lack of knowledge being passed on; I see a harsh pattern emerging among our educators instead.

I find the inconsideration inclined towards student workers not only unfair, but hypocritical; after all, we are, like teachers, workers, who are just doing their jobs and trying to get through every day each hour at a time. We all hate our jobs some days and love them on others. We experience difficulties with communications, superiors, coworkers, and other common complications. I will not pretend that student workers know what it is like to be teachers or adults. I will not compare our small-time high school jobs we may keep for two to four years to long term careers that may last upwards of 40, but there is a connection in the fact that we are all counted as employees of some kind; workers who may have very different jobs, but perhaps similar struggles.

So why is there this distrust in students? There will be times when students simply procrastinate or don’t care; those students are unavoidable. But for the students spread so thin their brain is just sometimes too weak to perform at its highest level, choosing to be sympathetic may not be the worst thing in the world. They are not all slackers trying to weasel their way into a better grade than they deserve.

AP/Honors teachers, we were told these classes were tough. We knew that going in. But when you see students crying, when you can see the late nights in the cups of coffee they chug and tired scribblings at the end of paragraphs, don’t write them off. Years of hundreds of faces may have desensitized you to the hearts and minds that sit and work and come and go inside the desks in your classroom, but they are all important and all worth your help and aide.

Fellow students should also begin taking into account the struggles of those they work beside who have jobs after school. In whatever form your peers may struggle, emotionally, mentally, etc., trying to size yourself up or look down upon them is probably one of the absolute worst things you can do. I’ve been in class before and heard laughs because I had questions, because I dare to try to understand what I didn’t, because I was brave enough to raise my hand and admit I needed help.

And for those in general who question another student’s dedication to school or extracurriculars because said students has a job; think for one second about how dedicated you have to be at all to take classes that are challenging, period. Now consider taking on the mantle of a responsibility of a job, taking into account that both the grades and the job could affect your future, your careers, who you become in life.

All in all, be mindful of student workers. So much weight on such young shoulders is sometimes unexpectedly hard to take. Take the high road, and instead of shaming us, ignoring us, or denying us the respect we have earned, try to help us in whatever capacity you feel comfortable with. It is always worth it to show another person compassion, especially when the cost may be just a few kind words or a couple minutes of your time.