Being pushed out of nest too early; Expectations, responsibilities overwhelm working students

KIMBERLY EDGAR, Entertainment Editor

     “Sorry, I have to work.” 

     A sentence that students in both high school or college use quite often. Sacrificing time and energy into a job that will never pay them enough to be able to support themselves in today’s world. 

     Don’t get me wrong, getting a job early on helps build some crucial skills, but it also takes a part in destroying a teen’s social life and significantly decreases excitement for becoming an adult. I got a job as soon as I could, at 16. I didn’t get a job because I wanted to; I got one because money runs the world and it was absolutely necessary for me to save up for a new car, gas, a place to live in the future, and of course, any extended learning I choose to do in the future. 

     Many people are like me, not born with an abundance of money, but with the expectation that you will be able to get an income to take care of yourself at some point. Unfortunately the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 2009, and it currently sits at $7.25, according to CNBC. Fortunately, Maryland Manual Online states that the minimum wage was raised in January 2022 to $12.50 for the state. 

     I think we can all agree that no one can support themselves with getting $7.25 an hour. $12.50 is better but not enough. Students already have limited hours in order to prioritize school and learning, and that isn’t even including free time for themselves. With this in mind, even if a student were to work a five hour shift four days out of seven, they would only get $250 a week. Working that much for a student is already unreasonable and although that amount seems like a lot, with the way prices are, it won’t get you very far. 

     Let’s assume a student continues this schedule for a month. Keep in mind this schedule is unreasonable for a student. With this schedule, a student would make approximately $1,086.31 a month. The best part is that regardless of your availability at your job, they may or may not schedule you as much as you would like. So, this number is significantly smaller in reality. Not to mention that some jobs have a starting pay that is less than minimum wage. 

    Jobs are hard to manage for students when they don’t have transportation, but even if they do, car insurance, any maintenance, and gas is hard to pay for with this paycheck depending on how much you get paid, when you get paid, and how often you work. Parents can only chip in as much as they can, and one day they won’t be there to help hold you above water. And for some, they are already slipping away. 

     The mental toll that comes along with working as a teen needs to be mentioned as well. It is physically and emotionally draining to stand in one place and talk to and provide a service for the general public. As a cashier, I find myself socially empty by the end of the shift in addition to physically aching. 

     Retail is suggested as a great place to start as a first job, but I disagree. Having a job is vital in today’s world, but retail sets you up for a rude awakening too early. My advice to you is to do something else, stand up for your social life and your capabilities, stay away from retail and try to keep your excitement for growing up. Advocate for yourself and remember that it won’t always be this hard.