Head in the Books Rather Than Working for the

By Jasmine Winston
We’re finally going back to school! We’re finally seeing those friends we haven’t seen since March. And now six months
later, we can go back! School supplies: computer- check! Wait, that’s all? But what about friends? What about taking
notes during long lectures? What about science labs? What about finally getting out of the house?

Like a lot of my friends I, too, was sad about not returning to in person classes. As students being prepped for the real
world, we need structure in our lives. Showing up to class on time, having a limited amount of class time to get work
done, and not being able to get away with cheating on tests. Most importantly getting up to be on time for school rather
than not attending the optional zoom meetings.
Since a lot of students have craved that sort of structure to their life, I've seen a lot of my classmates take on jobs. Some people are working two part-time jobs like
me or taking on a full-time job in stores, malls, coffee shops, barber shops, and even community work. Taking on a job or jobs can mean a lot of responsibility in
addition to strong organizational skills. But all too quickly, a teen can go from wanting structure in their boring lives to becoming money hungry.
Money equals independence, and like a majority of teens, it is something that we all have our eyes on; being able to go where we want, when we want, afford the
clothes that we want to buy without having to ask for money from our parents. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel like this too.

Personally, I picked both of my jobs because both do not open before 10 a.m. or
stay open past 6 p.m. I can get off work, eat, study my materials, and get a lot of
work done before getting my required eight hours of sleep. In addition, I have some
time to exercise in the morning before I go to work so I can stay fit. I surround
myself with people who encourage me to be my best self and to stay safe. There’s
not much to do, so when parties are occurring, I make sure I am never tempted to
go by, always keeping busy.

I’d like to share a few tips to my fellow bag-chasing teens. First, start by creating
academic goals for yourself. Set some expectations for yourself to decrease the
chances of falling below your capabilities, in addition to prioritizing your education.

Second, make academic checkpoints for yourself. For example, if your grade falls
below an A or a B (or whatever expectation you may have for yourself), be
responsible enough to take off some time from work and spend more time on
studying. This also comes with the responsibility of communication with your
employer about your priorities, and if you need to take some days off to tend to your
academics then do that. I know a lot of working teens won’t be happy about doing
this. But even taking yourself off the schedule because you realize it is too difficult
to balance work and school or you need some personal time to just relax is ok.

Finally, set a financial goal for yourself. This is so you can budget appropriately and
avoid being money hungry. You know how much you actually need and not just
how much you want. Having your academic and your financial goals in check will
allow you to reflect on whether you pick up an extra shift at work or if you study for
that upcoming test.

When September starts, I hope that my classmates can appropriately balance work
in addition to putting their academics in first priority. Because money comes and
goes but knowledge and wisdom are never lost.