Some parents think that jobs can distract from their teen’s focus on school, but it’s actually extremely helpful for getting ready for college. Inspiring your teen to work in high school has a ton of awesome benefits, teaching them life lessons that they can use to be more successful in their next stage of education. Here’s five ways a job in high school is college prep.
- Teaches Financial Independence
When your teen has a job in high school, it teaches them responsibility about how to budget their money. This is a crucial skill to have in college because moving out of the house comes with a bunch of new expenses like groceries, rent, and school supplies. Your teen can’t rely on the Bank of Mom and Dad forever, so the sooner they can start generating their own income and learning how to use it wisely, the more prepared they will be for college. Plus, students that don’t have a lot of experience doing things on their own, like shopping, making money, and paying bills, are less happy in college because it’s such a dramatic change.
- College Essay Topics
If your teen doesn’t know what to write about for their essay applications, jobs are an awesome source of inspiration. It allows teens to talk about times that they had to compromise to be successful, ways they had to overcome difficulty, and what lessons they gained from working in a professional space. Jobs are a place for teenagers to grow and learn more about the world, so expressing their lessons through an essay could give them a more unique voice than the other applicants. Plus, it might be more relatable to an admissions worker to hear about what a teen learned at work as opposed to lessons they learned in school.
- Demonstrates Balance
The key to a good application is showing a well-rounded life, which means doing other things than just studying and getting good grades. Colleges like to see when applicants have experience working in their local community because it demonstrates they value other aspects of their life beyond academics. Whether your teen is volunteering or working for pay, the job experience speaks a lot to their character, which comes across in their application.
- Helping School Organizations
It takes a large amount of student workers to make a college run, so colleges like applicants with job experience. Admissions centers are looking for students that can help the school be more successful by running student organizations such as service clubs, club sports, and more. Students that have prior job experience demonstrate that they know how to meet professional goals that will make student organizations run effectively and accomplish more. Colleges also employ a lot of students to help run different offices on campus, or work in service-related fields for the bookstore or on-campus café. Students with office or café experience, for example, might be seen as more valuable to the school.
- Reinforces Time Management
In college, your teen will be confronted with learning how to balance a lot of different aspects of their life, which is easier if they know how to manage school on top of a job. With diverse class schedules meeting throughout different parts of the day, your teen could be at a loss when deciding how to incorporate social time, chores, or campus activities. The time management skills they will get from having work in high school their brain is developing will give them more confidence to plan out their day and take on more responsibilities to be successful and efficient.
- Interacting with Professionals
Having job experience gives your teenager the chance to interact with adults in a professional space, which is a great skill to have in college. When your teen needs to meet with professors, different administrators, or potential employers, it helps to know how to talk to them professionally. This skill can help them navigate college and look for future jobs more effectively, while impressing the adults they meet along the way. Simply knowing how to act professionally can open a lot of doors in college.
- Letters of Recommendation
Working hard at a job can help your teen form positive professional relationships that they can use to get strong letters of recommendation. Most students get letters of recommendation from teachers and faculty that they connected with at school, but having an employer write a letter really stands out. It shows the school that your teen can be successful in multiple aspects of their life, and shows the kind of work ethic they can bring to the college. Having a diverse group of recommendations makes for a more successful application.
- Narrows Down Career Ideas
Job experience also helps your teen understand what kinds of professions they might enjoy, so they can focus on related career paths in college. Having a great job can influence your teen to take classes and meet with professionals that are associated with job, making them a better candidate for future applications. Even bad jobs can be beneficial because it teaches your teen what they don’t want to do in their professional life. It’s normal for teens to be uncertain about what kind of job they might have in the future, but the more jobs they have, the closer they can get to figuring out what they might want to do after college.
Help Your Teen Get a Job!
Your teen will be much more prepared for college after gaining some work experience, so we recommend that you help them find a job a high school. They might not know how to make a resume or what kinds of jobs might be a good fit, so it’s really helpful when the parents lend them a helping hand to get started. After having a job, they will be much happier, more independent, and more successful in college.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.