Work, life balance poses challenge for teens


Elliana Carter, Reporter

If you ask most teens, they will be quick to tell you they have very little free time. For those who are in sports or any other extracurricular, free time is a very precious thing. Homework is crammed in between practices, games, and church events. It seems as if every moment outside of school is planned. When you would complain to your parents or teachers, you would get the basic response of “time management is the answer.” But when COVID hit, how much of this changed?

Thousands of students are now online for school. For some, this seems like this would solve the problem. Virtual students now spend their days at home, and many activities are no longer happening altogether.

But the reality of online school isn’t that simple. As an online student myself, back in August, I was excited to get to stay home and work through school. I was able only to have to work about three days a week and got plenty of sleep. It seemed like the perfect setup. But as time progressed, I found that online school wasn’t nearly as perfect as it first appeared.

For many of my friends outside of Melissa, online school is much worse. They are required to sit through Zoom meetings for all of their classes, spending roughly eight hours a day staring at their laptops only to be assigned several hours of homework afterward. I was quick to say how lucky I was not to have that setup. And while I’m still grateful, I realize my schooling has downsides, too.

The first semester of senior year online went well, with me easily passing all my classes without much stress. But the second semester came as a surprise. Over the break, I got a part-time job. I only work around 14-16 hours a week, which doesn’t seem like that much. Within a month of getting that job, I began to realize how quickly free time can vanish.

My teachers this semester have made it very clear that my internet problems or glitches are not their problems and that my grades will reflect that. Every Monday, when our week’s workload is released, I spend every minute up until I leave for swim practice working. I come back and often spend another hour or two until bed working again. If I’m lucky that week, I manage to have maybe one or two hours free at night before bed. I push to finish all the work before I go to work on Friday since I have a three-hour window between work and swim.

Now, does this mean I’m not managing my time well? Does this mean perhaps if I worked harder, I wouldn’t have these problems? I would argue no, it’s not about time management anymore. I work very efficiently on all my work, barely having any breaks and always able to read quickly through the texts. I have barely any social activities anymore. I do one sport and only work two days a week.

The difference is the workload. Many teachers feel that being online means we can have a heavier workload since we theoretically have more time to do the work since we don’t have Zoom meetings or in-person classes. Online school is not easier as some would like to think. So when you hear a high schooler complaining about their lack of free time, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to say “time management!” next time.