For more and more teens, part-time work isn't an option - it's a necessity.
The College Board notes the average tuition and fees for in-state students at four-year public institutions jumped up to more than $9,000 for the 2014-2015 school year, and the cost of a nonprofit private school soared to more than $31,000. Combine those numbers with room and board, books, and miscellaneous expenses, and the total cost of college is staggering.
Most parents can't shoulder that expense by themselves, and students are reluctant to take out even more loans. Part-time work won't cover the whole cost of college, but it can help put a dent in the total bill. Unfortunately, it can be tricky for first-time employees to figure out how to strike a balance between academics and hours on the job, whether they're still in high school or in college.
Here are three ways to help figure it out.
1. Take a realistic look at your commitments .
What does a normal week in your life look like? Are you taking several difficult classes, playing a sport, and participating in a club? Or are your after-school and weekend hours spent on social media and Netflix? If you're already stretched thin, fitting in a part-time job could be a challenge. If free time is all you seem to have, start filling out those applications.
2. Make sure your boss knows your schedule.
During busy periods, your manager may schedule you for more shifts than you think you can handle. Before you start, determine how many hours you can work each week, and let the person who makes the schedule know what your limit is. The last thing you want to do is have absolutely no time for homework, friends, or extracurriculars you love!
You'll also let to need your boss know if there are certain days or hours you absolutely can't work. Obviously school hours are off-limits, but if you struggle in math and have a quiz every Thursday, you may want to say you're unavailable Wednesday evenings so you can give yourself time to hit the books.
3. Create a homework plan.
Part-time workers usually receive their scheduled shifts at least a week in advance. That gives you time to figure out what times you can devote to homework. If you know you work Tuesday and Wednesday after school and have a test Friday morning, you can study Monday and Thursday. Get a planner or calendar and map it all out - this is a life skill that'll be useful after college!
It's not enough to just plan study or homework time - you have to use these hours wisely. During these periods, leave your phone in another room, turn off the TV, and minimize any other distractions. With no disruptions, you can make sure you're staying productive.