Used with permission from Sophia Ezunu
I began my first part-time job the summer before junior year. It was merely a means to just get money out of want and not need. Now as a senior, it’s a necessity for me, as it is for others. However, society has created the norm of glamorizing overworking.
Due to remote learning, students are in school for typically four hours or more a day. If students were in a traditional school setting, they would be in school for 7-8 hours a day. Students now can pick up more hours in the afternoon due to remote learning.
The University of Michigan conducted a study led by U-M psychologist Jerald Bachman, in which they looked at 12th-grade students who worked 1-15 hours per week. Those students graduated with at least a bachelor’s degree. However, for students that work, “additional 5 hours of work was associated with an 8-percentage point drop in completion.” With only an extra five hours a week, students can see a significant difference in how their future is affected. It’s become all too easy for students to pick up more hours and shifts due to earlier school release with remote learning.
I work about 15 hours a week. However, I still feel overwhelmed. Senior year has been my most rigorous year in terms of classes, all while working a job during a pandemic and the holiday season.
On days I work, I get stress headaches and aches in my shoulders and neck. On nights I work, I end up getting about 5-6 hours of sleep. I wake up feeling tired but I have to do it all again. The cycle begins anew.
Many students almost brag about having to pull all-nighters for school because of how long they worked. I know I’ve done it. It has become a necessity for students to let others know how they got to that point. It’s perpetuated that one must risk their health and mental stability to be considered productive.
“It’s been very overwhelming starting Zoom in the morning and right after my last class I have to get ready for work,” Buffalo Grove High School senior Yudany Diaz said. “I come back and do homework and repeat.”
Diaz typically works 20-25 hours a week. She mentions repeating the same cycle, which can get tiresome. She’s in the category of a drop in completion. It leads me to think about why someone my age would work that many hours with school on top of it.
“I started working to pay for my school registration and fees,” Diaz said. “I’m still working because my dad is sick, so it’s only my mom and I working.”
Many no longer work just out of pure want of money. It’s a means to survive. Some students provide financial support to their family’s income.
For most it’s not feasible to cut back on hours, so here are some ways to help ease the struggles of overworking. Asking teachers for help when overwhelmed because teachers are people too and will understand. Self-care days are a great way to examine priorities and take a break from everything. Going for a walk or talking to a friend to clear the mind.
Society has led us to believe that balancing many things at once and overworking ourselves is the truest sign of being productive. It’s a myth. For many working is a necessity. While these ways are not guaranteed to solve everything, it allows students to ask for help so as not to do it alone and give them time to disconnect.