As college costs explode, students in hunt for jobs

The Southerner

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BY LUCY LOMBARDO
The bell rings to mark the end of the school day, but for many students, their days have just begun. This is because many of them hold part-time jobs that start soon after school lets out. These jobs earn them a precious cash flow that many save for college.

More and more, teens are looking for jobs to supply an income in high school and beyond. The National Research Center for Women and Families concluded, after taking into account many recent studies, that about one in six teenagers hold a job while in high school. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for teens has fallen to its lowest point since the early 1960s, due in part to the fact that managers can now hire older, more experienced people to do the jobs that teens use to do.
This causes teens to have to look a little further than their neighborhood grocery store or fast food joint for employment.

Grady High School senior Alyccia Denson works a flash-pass booth at Six Flags, and logs up to 40 hours a week during the summer months. Now that school has started, she said she only works 10-12 hours on the weekends, and, when Six Flags closes after October, will be out of a job.

Denson said she mostly took the job to have a steady income through high school. She used to save some of her money and spend the rest on clothes. Since she’s a senior this year, however, things have changed.

“Now I’m going to spend it [money] on college applications,” said Denson. She earns minimum wage, $7.25 an hour.

Besides the applications, Denson will save for emergencies and spending money in college. She also thinks she will have to apply for scholarships and student loans since her parents “will probably pay for my dorm room but not my actual tuition.”

Others students are starting to feel the strain of upcoming college expenses as well. Sophomores Jennifer Steckl and Jack Arnold already have jobs; both of which are a little off the beaten path.

Steckl is a lifeguard and babysits on the side. She too worked longer hours in the summer but must turn down jobs from pools now that school is in session. She used to work anywhere from 12-18 hours a week, but now works about one shift per week, which is about 6 hours, and earns $8 an hour.

Because of her two jobs, she is able to spend the money she earns lifeguarding and save the money she earns babysitting. She believes she will be responsible for the majority of her spending money once she reaches college.

Arnold has a more lenient part-time job; he is a teacher’s assistant.

“Every Sunday, besides various Jewish holidays, I go to my synagogue’s Hebrew school and assist the teachers with whatever they need,” said Arnold.

His job changes weekly as he is needed to perform different tasks. It’s different in another way as well. He works 2-3 hours each Sunday, and splits that time between volunteer hours and billable hours.

He saves his money for college since he thinks his parents will assist in his tuition and board, but knows he will be responsible for at least some of it.

Parents are also getting involved in their children’s hunt for jobs. Steckl’s mom, Renee Steckl, said in an email interview that she “assisted Jenn with setting up the training to get her [lifeguarding] certificate.”

Steckl also told her daughter about a company that rents out lifeguards to pools around Atlanta, kind of like substitute teachers. She thinks having a job is good for Jennifer.
“School and other commitments come first,” said Renee Steckl. “If she has a clear schedule, she is able to take the job.”

Steckl also said she hopes Jennifer will save her money for college, but pointed out that she doesn’t force her to.

Other students are looking ahead to future jobs for employment. Sophomore Penelope Realff volunteers at Zoo Atlanta 20 hours a week in the summer and eight hours during the school year. While she is unpaid for her work, she has a plan.

“I have an internship in education,” said Realff. “And that can lead to an internship in another area with animals, which leads to a keeper position.” This means she will be responsible for caring for the animals.

And this, she said, will be a paying job. Realff believes she will have a paying job at the zoo by senior year.

But not all students are concerned with getting a job right now. Sophomore Mia Panarites does not have a part-time job.

“It’s too complicated to look for one because of school and I don’t have the time,” said Panarites.

She said she would like one by junior year, and “wouldn’t mind waitressing because it’ll help me get used to public speaking.” She said she would put the majority of her earnings in a savings account.

Panarites’ ideology about earning money mirrors the thoughts of her fellow students. She needs money to pay for college, and her parents can’t cover everything.

“I have to pay for college expenses somehow,” she said.

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