Employed, Educated, And Running On Empty


Troy Pallen

SPASH student seen doing work on a school night. Photo credits: Troy Pallen

Troy Pallen, Hour 1

They don’t have it that bad… Or do they?

When you walk through the halls of SPASH and see students practically falling asleep while standing and barely even paying attention to what’s happening around them. A majority of the reasoning for this is because of these students’ work life. Most of the students work afterschool and weekend jobs in either food, retail, small businesses, or apprenticeships. For the Stevens Point/Plover area having a large mix of wealthy, middle class, and lower middle class families; a good majority of these families have children working at a young age. Needing the money or not; a job is a commitment and responsibility that you can’t walk away from.  An education is also a major commitment that requires a lot of attention. In a poll about working as a student 40 people participated and 26 people responded to the short answer “Tell me about your work and school life…”. Out of those 26 people Autumn Pagel, and Chandler Pallen were very significant respondents for their experience with education and employment. In the poll Autumn answered, 

I recently got a job and have lost almost all of my free time. I get little sleep due to it as well, causing me to fall asleep in class. I think school should be more accommodating to high school students, like starting later and maybe ending earlier, like a Wednesday scheduled everyday. That way students can still get sleep and have time to work and do homework without feeling stressed.

Chandler also answered the poll with a very similar response,

I have worked two jobs over the past summer and was basically working nearly 40 hours a week with one day off a week. This work style is hard to do during the school year so I am working 9 hours on Saturday and Sunday along with 4 hours after school Fridays…

Both of these responses not only show the great sacrifices made by working students and the lengths we have to go just to get a few dollars to our names. Still, we’re expected to be alive and awake at 7:35 every morning, then we’re expected to do homework on our own time, no matter our job status and go to school again the next day. 

Dodge Ram 2500 front differential replacement done by a SPASH student. Photo Credits: (Troy Pallen)

Sleep or successful grades?

The working student not only sacrifices time, they also sacrifice a very important key to success… Sleep. Most working students you can pick out from the rest, they show signs of sleep deprivation and are even prone to falling asleep in class. In that same group of 40 students another question was asked. “How many hours a week do you work?” This opened up some very shocking and revealing data. The data revealed that;  35.9% of the students said they work 11-20 hours a week and 28.2% of the same student pool also work 21-30 hours a week. That’s not too eye opening until you pair those responses up with the responses from the question “What percentage of homework do you complete when you work during the school week?” 25.6% of people responded that they only get 40% of their homework done during the work week, equally another 25.6% says they can finish 80% of their homework during the work week. This is not enough time even though the graphs say otherwise. It’s no lie that people with jobs are more productive and persistent on finishing tasks so that means these students are making time and cutting corners somehow. Through poll results it shows that students are cutting sleep for success. 40% of students said they are losing significant amounts of sleep and have very little free time. This is just one of the many reasons that show how SPASH doesn’t have a working student friendly schedule. 

Will we ever see change?

The fact of the matter here is that we can argue and prove facts all day and night but SPASH and its non worker friendly norms have been like this for many many years, and it probably will be like this many years to come.It’s just good to understand the lives of the working students and respect them for what they go through just to keep their head above the financial water. Hopefully some day the working student will see some change.