Finding a balance: Students manage studies, extracurriculars

Hyvee has a reputation for it’s organic food section, it’s candy store style candy aisle, it’s delivery service and having an ice cream selection stocked with flavors like blood orange. But it is also stocked with many NCHS students as employees. Including Morgan Brant.

Morgan, a senior, greets customers with a bright smile asking “Hi, how many I help you?” The customers smile back seemingly pleased.

Sometimes they respond back with “I’ll just have a bowl of orange chicken, please,” or they say “I’ll take some chow mein.” Morgan grabs a black ladle and scoops the saucy orange chicken or the long, thin noodles, spooning them into a black take-out bowl.

“Anything else for you?” she asks.

Every response differs, a customer may want more food or that may be all.

As the customers leave, Morgan offers another bright smile with a sincere “Have a nice day!”

Morgan isn’t the only NCHS student with a job greeting customers on their school nights, similar interactions are happening throughout town.

Like all high school students, those at NCHS must balance their time. The amount of time students have once their school day ends is sparse since few students truly end their days at 2:30. Many go on to an extracurricular – a club, a sport or they go to work.

Of the students polled for this article, many expressed that the reason that they do not have a job is because they don’t time for one.

But some do work, even though they don’t have time to finish homework, to study. But they want the money.

Selena Wade, a senior, works at Starbucks three to four days a week. She doesn’t have time to finish her homework on school days when she works.

“I don’t have time to do it,” said Selena, “I have an hour at most, which I usually spend getting ready and driving to work.”

Fewer teens have jobs

Once Selena leaves school and arrives home she begins to change for work. “I don’t rush to leave school, but I don’t ‘take my time’,” said Selena. She gets her work clothes, changes, puts her hair in a ponytail and drives 20 minutes to work.

Senior Mitch Turner’s afternoon looks a little different than Selena’s.

Mitch doesn’t have a job but is involved in several extracurriculars. Mitch plays basketball and tennis, runs cross country, and is on Senior Class Board. He devotes a large portion of his time to these activities.

“For cross country it was at least two hours a day, three hours on the weekend, so at least 13 hours a week,” Mitch said speaking about the time he spends in extracurriculars. 

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And that’s just cross country.

Morgan’s works at Hyvee four to five times a week, usually going into work at 4 or 4:30 and clocking out around 9:30.

She also doesn’t finish her homework on days she works.

Morgan typically has 30 minutes to an hour before work. This would be a small window of time to get across town, change, eat, let alone think about homework. “I usually lay in bed before because I’m tired,” Morgan said, “or I don’t have time to do that and I just get ready.”

Morgan, like many students surveyed for this article, decided to apply for a job to have extra spending money. If she didn’t need the money, she’d rather not work or she’d work less hours.

Morgan and Kelly Wallace(12) differ in their after school activities, but Kelly was once in Morgan’s position.

Kelly focuses here time on extracurriculars instead of an after-school job. She participates in Mindful Iron, Model UN, Senior Class Board, and Bike club. She usually spends one day per school week in one of these activities.

Although Kelly has about three hours of free time, she spends an average of three hours on homework. This is the reason she doesn’t have a job.

Kelly worked at Take a Bite, a vegan bakery, for a week and a half, “I didn’t get anything done,” Kelly explained, “I didn’t have time for any of my homework and would finish my homework at midnight.”

She wouldn’t consider a job during high school again because of the added stress, and doesn’t know how people have jobs in high school when they’re involved in other things.

Not having time for homework, or having to stay up late just to finish schoolwork affects student’s grades. Out of the students surveyed, a third said they think their grades would be better if they weren’t involved in after school activities – clubs, sports or work.

Selena thinks her grades would be better since she doesn’t have much time to focus on her schoolwork when she has to work. “I have a lot of mental breakdowns,” she said with a nervous laugh.

Morgan thinks hers would be better as well, “I’d have more time to do homework,” she said.

Mitch explained, “I would have more time to focus and wouldn’t be as tired,” if he wasn’t involved in so many extracurriculars.

Overall, NCHS students are busy whether it’s with a club, a sport or a job. But, if they really felt that one interfered drastically with their academics they might give something up. Everyone is still learning time management. Everyone is still trying to balance.

Morgan likes working at Hyvee even though it interferes with school, “the people there make it the best, we’re all like a family,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s work day ends at 9:30 pm with the last customer.

“Have a nice night,” she says to the last straggling customer ordering food. This time it’s with a little less enthusiasm, and a smaller smile. This could be because she’s remembering all of the homework she has sitting in her backpack at home.