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West Students Balance School, Activities, Jobs

Jessiemae Peters and Katie Herring

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High school students balance school and their jobs to be able to help provide financial and personal needs.

According to Urban Alliance, having a job while in high school has proven to improve academic performance. Urban Alliance did a research that states – in 2011, the rate of unemployment was the highest for teens who were African American or Hispanic, compared to White teens. The African American unemployment rate was 60%, Hispanic was 52%, and White was 35%.

The main reason Wauwatosa West students surveyed said they didn’t have a job was that they had other responsibilities – watching siblings, sports, extra-curricular activities. The majority of students surveyed who had jobs also stated they had their job for 1 to 3 months. Wauwatosa West teacher Nick Koepke, says he worked multiple jobs throughout his high school career. During this time he was involved in different activities along with a job.

“During the school year it was tough, because I was on the swim team and in band,” Koepke said, “There was a lot of extracurriculars that I had to do.”

With those extracurriculars he held multiple jobs starting the summer before sophomore year, to his senior year. These jobs had cut into his time for homework and studying. Koepke also stated that if there was ever a big mishap between school and work, his job would be the first to go.

54.9% of Wauwatosa West students surveyed stated that they have a job. 41.5% stated they didn’t.

23 students at Wauwatosa West say they have a job to help their families, or obtain the things their parents couldn’t. Sophomore Mercedes VanLeer says even though she doesn’t have a job, she’d like to find one.

“I want a job,” VanLeer said, “Recently I’ve realized that I need things that my parents can’t provide for me.”

VanLeer pointed out that it’s difficult to know where she can apply and where she can’t apply.

Another student expresses the limited opportunities for jobs, based on the applicants appearance and/or ethnicity.

“I feel like it’s very limited to people that are known to the workers,” Anonymous said, “which seems troubling to me as it doesn’t leave the door open for people of diverse backgrounds to join in.”

The student also brought up the point of how more diverse their school is, than their job is. 

“Often times I’m only working with people who are of a similar racial background to me,” The student said, “Which is not something I experience at school.”  

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