Work-study balance among high school students

The second cycle of secondary school in Quebec is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the world of work. In fact, he is engaged in a merciless struggle against a world that steals his brains to harden them to various tasks paid a little more than minimum wage. Recently, the dailies were talking about the concerns of teachers who find that students are studying less and less. They don’t have time anymore!

Yet the benefits of the world of work for young people are undeniable. This helps to develop the sense of organization and responsibilities of our students in addition to helping stimulate the emergence of essential qualities in an adult in the making: interpersonal skills, autonomy, openness, etc. At 16, it is desirable, even essential, for a student to learn to manage different facets of his life: friends, family, love, work, school. The key to success, however, is balance and currently, we have reason to believe that too many students are blindly and excessively investing in their so-called “professional” activities.

“If work interferes with your studies, drop out of school!” “

While we have been talking for a long time about work-family balance for Quebec adults who somehow combine their family and professional life, we are facing a new reality: work-study balance among our young people in schools. Already in the fourth year of secondary school, at age 15, they learn to juggle work schedules and their school obligations.

Take the case of a student who works thirty hours in some company. To his working hours, we add thirty-five spent working in a school environment. In total, of the 168 hours per week, he has already spent almost 40% of his time working at school or elsewhere. To this, if we add the nine hours of daily sleep recommended for adolescents by the Canadian Sleep Society, 75% of a student’s time in a week is occupied. There is little time left for studies and lessons at home, as well as for social and family activities. The student ploy is then simple: doze off at school, neglect homework and lessons to the detriment of academic performance, neglect family life. In other words, for the lure of immediate gain, the student mortgages his future since the vicious circle sets in: too much work, decrease in the time invested in his studies, drop in results, decrease in the possibilities of admission to CEGEP in a limited program, etc. The world of work therefore becomes the solution in the end, since the student has exhausted his possibilities and his ambition for post-secondary studies. In many cases, he will remain in the labor market permanently under the same conditions as when he was studying. Not to mention that this overwork is probably not foreign to the resurgence of cases of mononucleosis or depression in our students. What a waste of talent! The world of work therefore becomes the solution in the end, since the student has exhausted his possibilities and his ambition for post-secondary studies. In many cases, he will remain in the labor market permanently under the same conditions as when he was studying. Not to mention that this overwork is probably not foreign to the resurgence of cases of mononucleosis or depression in our students. What a waste of talent! The world of work therefore becomes the solution in the end, since the student has exhausted his possibilities and his ambition for post-secondary studies. In many cases, he will remain in the labor market permanently under the same conditions as when he was studying. Not to mention that this overwork is probably not foreign to the resurgence of cases of mononucleosis or depression in our students. What a waste of talent! Not to mention that this overwork is probably not foreign to the resurgence of cases of mononucleosis or depression in our students. What a waste of talent! Not to mention that this overwork is probably not foreign to the resurgence of cases of mononucleosis or depression in our students. What a waste of talent!

An unequal struggle

Here is what the world of work offers to our young people. An attractive salary hovering around $ 10 an hour with flexible hours. For a student working 25 hours, that means bimonthly pay of $ 500 of which tax free is refunded immediately or the following spring. Payroll deductions are therefore limited to employment insurance premiums and union dues. The world of work provides what young people are looking for: immediate gratification allowing them to immediately enjoy the benefits of pocket money. Not to mention that the students already have accounts payable! Cell phone bills are often steep and, as has always been the case, access to a car, a sure sign of freedom, involves considerable expense.

At the same time, Quebec’s schools offer long-term promises. For a generation of teens living in the present, the choice is easy. We can promise that in ten years or so these young people will be complete citizens, in means, with a well-made and full head, we cannot do it with impunity because it lacks an important ingredient that the school community can hardly control: perseverance. Because it is definitely a real model of perseverance, not to say stubbornness, where the gain is spread over several years that is proposed by the Quebec School.

We are not of caliber; we are proposing a long-term solution that is opposed to short-term gratification that nevertheless fits exactly into the social values ​​currently conveyed. That says it all. How can we blame our students? They just want to enjoy the benefits of being an adult. Moreover, the world of work is so powerful and omnipresent that it requires, on occasion, a letter from school to motivate the absence from work of our students, their employees, during a school trip or of a week of exams. However, this unequal struggle should be turned to the advantage of the school environment, and therefore of the students.

The solution ?

It is obvious, first of all, that parents must be involved in the choices of students to evolve in the labor market. They must determine to what extent and in what way the needs of their children are to be met. In addition, the role of the school is one of raising awareness and educating about the phenomenon. Schools must explain the measurable consequences of students’ over-investment in their “professional” activities. Moreover, why not impose an employment contract with the students of the fourth and fifth years of secondary school where they undertake to limit their hours worked in places other than school. This contract would also be an awareness tool filled with statistics and listing the measurable consequences of the phenomenon,

Also, the government should get involved in the matter. Why not legislate by limiting the working hours of full-time high school students? Should tax penalties be imposed on students so that there are other deductions that apply to their salary? Ditto for companies: can we penalize them in this sense?

Finally, there is a great initiative to be highlighted. The Montreal Success Network is an organization for networking and mobilizing institutions (and employers) adhering to academic values ​​and prioritizing the academic success of their employees. It is   a place of convergence of actions having a positive influence on young people, parents and interveners in order to increase perseverance, success and school dropout . It is obvious that the success of such a measure depends on making companies aware of the phenomenon. The school, moreover, can be more active in this regard by soliciting the support of surrounding businesses regarding the working hours of the pupils.

It is important to stop exploiting the naivety of students and feed their aspirations by immediately gratifying their desire for freedom. By allowing them to launch headlong into the world of employment, we allow them to run to their loss while we pretend that this world contributes to their personal development. There should be no work-study balance. Nothing should hinder the academic work of our senior high school students. We all have a responsibility to make them understand that the real wealth is that of investing in their abilities, their passions and their future. Nothing less.