Working Part-Time Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Many high school students have some form of part-time work. Student jobs can provide beneficial experiences that allow youth to build skills and develop social connections that may help them attain long term academic success and invest in future careers (Hirschman & Voloshin, 2007). However, part-time work among youth has been tied to detrimental academic outcomes, including poor grades, absenteeism, and lower graduation rates (Staff et al., 2010). Intensity and type of work appear to mitigate the impact of part-time work on academic achievement (Staff & Schulenberg, 2010; Staff et al., 2010).

The Learning Bar’s framework on student engagement includes measures of social, institutional, and intellectual engagement. The time variables, such as Working Part-Time, are a component of social engagement, situated alongside participation in sports and clubs, sense of belonging and making positive friendships at school.

Why is it important?

  • Students who work more than 20 hours per week have less favorable educational outcomes than their peers (Staff et al., 2010).

  • Office work and clerical roles offer the best opportunities for youth to engage in relevant work that develops job skills and work-related knowledge, while those in fast food or retail offer the least (Staff & Schulenberg, 2010).

  • Teachers should be cognizant of the consequences associated with youth employment and guide students to explore employment opportunities that best match their academic goals and vocational interests (Mortimer, 2010).

How do we measure it?

In the OurSCHOOL secondary school survey, students are asked about how much time they spend working part-time in a typical week. The results are reported as “the percentage of students who are working part-time.”



Hirschman, C., & Voloshin, I. (2007). The structure of teenage employment: Social background and the jobs held by high school seniors. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 25(3), 189-203.

Mortimer, J. T. (2010). The benefits and risks of adolescent employment. The Prevention Researcher, 17(2), 8-11.

Staff, J., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2010). Millennials and the world of work: Experiences in paid work during adolescence. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(2), 247-255.

Staff, J., Schulenberg, J. E., & Bachman, J. G. (2010). Adolescent work intensity, school performance, and academic engagement. Sociology of Education, 83(3), 183-200.

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