Here are three reasons why I recommend a high school student find a part-time job in high school:
1. You make money.
Every dollar a student has to put towards college is a dollar your family doesn’t have to rely on financial aid to get. The formula may be kind to kids (and families, for that matter) that never bothered to save their money, but remember that not all financial aid is free money. A lot of aid comes in the form of loans, most of which are taken out in the student’s name, that need to be paid back. Colleges expect both students and parents to pay to the maximum extent they are able to fund a student’s college education. Holding a part-time job and saving a portion of the money is a great way for a student to contribute to her education and show the financial aid office that she’s doing her part.
2. You get great experience.
Everybody needs their first job at some point—the job you take because you don’t have any work experience and know you can’t afford to be picky. Why not do that in high school? Get your first job at 16 or 17, and before you even start college, you’ll have something to list on your resume and references you can give potential employers.
Kids who’ve had jobs also know how to deal with angry customers, how to show initiative and how to work well with people. I’ve read some wonderful college essays from kids who have worked at fast food restaurants and talked about how good it felt when they got promoted to shift manager and didn’t have to take orders at the drive-thru anymore. Experience is more than just what’s on your resume.
3. Colleges love it.
Every admissions officer I’ve ever asked about this has agreed it’s hard not to like a kid who scoops ice cream or pours coffee or takes tickets at the movie theater to make some extra money. Virtually all the students we’ve worked with who discussed their part-time jobs in their applications have been very successful at getting into college.