Should teenagers have jobs while they’re in high school? Doesn’t working distract them from schoolwork, cause long-term problem behaviors, and precipitate a “precocious” transition to adulthood?
This report from a remarkable longitudinal study of 1,000 students, followed from the beginning of high school through their mid-twenties, answers, resoundingly, no. Examining a broad range of teenagers, Jeylan Mortimer concludes that high school students who work even as much as half-time are in fact better off in many ways than students who don’t have jobs at all. Having part-time jobs can increase confidence and time management skills, promote vocational exploration, and enhance subsequent academic success. The wider social circle of adults they meet through their jobs can also buffer strains at home, and some of what young people learn on the job—not least, responsibility and confidence—gives them an advantage in later work life.
Mortimer…reports here on the findings from her multiyear longitudinal study, which followed the lives of 1000 students from their first year of high school to their mid-twenties… The study does convincingly demonstrate that part-time employment not only supplements a teen’s learning process but also bolsters self-confidence, socialization, time-management skills, career exploration, and responsibility… This book is readable and interesting and will likely serve as the underpinning for research in an array of disciplines.
Mortimer found that high-schoolers who work in moderation, on average 20 hours or less a week during the school year, were more likely to go on to college and receive a degree compared with both their peers who did not work and those who worked more than 20 hours a week. She also concludes that a part-time job can increase confidence, teach teenagers how to manage time and help them think about what kind of work they want to do as adults. In the academic and public policy debates about the value of teenage work, her book offers support for what many parents have long suspected: A job often can be a good thing.
- 304 pages
- 0-3/4 x 5-11/16 x 8-7/8 inches
- Harvard University Press
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