Balancing Act

Managing both work and school keeps students on their toes


Sadie Hathaway

Sophomore Sadie Hathaway gets ready to work a shift at Chick-Fil-A. Usually working between 18-22 hours a week, Hathaway has had to find a balance between her job and school.

Eavan Driscoll, Staff Reporter

Are you a working student or looking to become a working student in your near future?

Many students start their first job sometime in high school. As classes get harder and time seems less plentiful, a job can seem to add more stress on an already busy student. Learning how to manage both school and work schedules is a tedious job. The question is, how do people do it? 

Sophomore Sadie Hathaway began her first job this year as a team member in front of the house at Chick-Fil-A. She works an average of 18-22 hours a week on top of her school responsibility. 

This new commitment has changed her workload and she has had to adjust her homework schedule by using asynchronous time and mornings to complete assignments as well as committing less time to other activities such as horse riding to help balance work hours. 

Hathaway took this job simply as something to do during quarantine. “My job is primarily dealing with customers and that has helped me to be more social.” 

Although she likes her job, Hathaway expressed some struggles with time management, specifically with her Advanced Placement United States History and English classes. 

“My [work] schedule comes out every Friday,” Hathaway said, “this is stressful because I cannot plan ahead of time for big projects or essays and have less time to study for upcoming tests.” 

Senior Georgia Costain, a hostess at Outback Steakhouse, has also expressed struggles with time management due to balancing her job. 

I’ve had to reduce my schedule to twelve hours on weekends only to keep up with school,”

— Georgia Costain

“I’ve had to reduce my schedule to twelve hours on weekends only to keep up with school,” she said. 

Since the shift to weekends, Costain has been able to focus on her due dates and catching up on her old work. 

Costain is most stressed about her dual enrollment classes because PVCC has different deadlines and policies. With her weekend schedule, she is aiming to have all of her work caught up by the end of the quarter. 

Although both girls are doing their best to balance their work and school commitments, time can run out in a day to complete everything. “I definitely stay up later than I should be completing homework,” Hathaway said. 

Hathaway closes at least two nights a week, getting home around midnight. When she gets home she still has homework to complete and often falls into an unpredictable sleep pattern.

“I am glad that this year’s due dates are more malleable so turning things in late is not that big of a deal,” Hathaway said. “If I have had a really late night I sometimes have to ask my teachers for extensions.” 

Both Hathaway and Costain said that they had to take full advantage of asynchronous time during the day to stay on top of their workload.

Hathaway also has the support of her parents on her side. She cannot drive herself yet, so her parents drive her and her twin brother Max to work and back, even at her late hours. 

Costain has her license and can drive herself to school, work, and field hockey practice. She said that the ability to drive herself gave her more freedom with scheduling her work hours. 

On top of balancing work and school, both girls are involved in extracurricular activities. Costain is the Varsity goalie for the  Field Hockey Team and Hathaway rides and cares for horses. 

Costain expressed that sometimes her Friday schedule has gotten in the way of her practice time. “When work runs over I am late to practice.” Her coach and a math teacher at the school, Brittany McElheny, is a stickler for timeliness but understands the importance of Costain’s job.

I want them to know that advanced communication is key”

— Brittany McElheny

“As a coach, I always want my players 100% dedicated to their team and honoring their commitment,”  McElheny said, “however, overall and more importantly I am helping to develop young adults who will have jobs and conflicts in the future.  I want them to know that advanced communication is key and I personally work to be flexible for student-athletes to all of the above.” 

 Balancing work and school is stressful for anyone, especially a first-time worker. When Hathaway feels anxious or stressed she will go to visit her horse Finn at his barn. 

“It is good to know your limits,” Hathaway said, understanding when you need a break is just as important as knowing when you need to keep going.”

Realizing how to balance work and school is an important life skill. “My motivation for working now is to prepare myself for college,” Costain said. She wants to push herself this year so she knows what she can handle next year away from home. 

Hathaway’s advice to anyone beginning a new job in high school is to “actually calculate your hours every day.” Knowing how many hours you need to sleep, go to school, do homework, and any other activities is crucial to deciding how many hours it is even possible for you to work according to Hathaway. 

“I respect my coworkers and understand that they are relying on me,” Hathaway said, “that is why over-scheduling myself would just make things harder for everyone.”

Hathaway also cautions that most jobs will require you to close or open around two times a week. “Be aware of your sleep,” Hathaway said, “even I sometimes lose track.”

Hathaway and her co-workers at Chick-Fil-A use an app called “Slack” that helps employees call in sick, communicate shifts, and helps people know who they need to cover for. 

“If in a tight situation, I would choose school over work and this app would make it possible to drop a shift,” Hathaway said. However, she hopes that with her careful planning and hard work she can avoid that.

Costain learned from experience to not over-schedule herself and has adapted her work schedule to her needs for the rest of the school year. “School is more important,” Costain said, “which is why I needed to reduce my hours.”

“My job is fast-paced and I have developed skills I could use in many other jobs in the future,” said Hathaway.

Despite the added work, planning, and stress balancing a job and school may require, the experience and life skills are worth it to Costain and Hathaway.