Does Paid Employment Help or Hinder Performance in Secondary School? Insights from U.S. High School Students

Publisher: Journal of Education and Work, 14 (3)
Page Numbers: 355-372

The purpose of this paper is to describe how some students reconcile school with paid employment. Previous studies have found that students who work a moderate number of hours while in school actually maintain better academic performance than students who do not work at all. (They also perform better than students who work long hours.) Brief essays written by a sample of US high school students as part of a longitudinal study reflect a continuum of opinions regarding the relative value of school and work. One common opinion is that both school and work have value because they both prepare young people for the future in similar ways. The prevalence of this view suggests one reason why working appears not to detract from school performance for some students. Creating more explicit connections between school and paid employment might further enhance their mutual complementarity.