All in a Hard Day's Work

Opinions  /  by Grace Blaxill '18  /  October 14, 2016

Jeffrey Tao '20 The Lawrence

As high schools go, Lawrenceville has an impressively wide array of extracurricular activities: Varsity, JV, House and Lifetime sports; Community Orchestra, Collegium, and Jazz Band; three Accapella groups; numerous community service opportunities; and just too many clubs to count. Since Lawrenceville tends to encompass the entire scope of our lives during the school year, the School does its best to provide students with every possible opportunity.

However, one category of extracurriculars is noticeably absent from this list: jobs. None of the multitudinous pastimes offered by this institution include opportunities for students to find employment. Considering the effort that Lawrenceville puts into providing for us, and especially the benefits of student employment, the absence of student jobs is a concerning blemish on the face of the Lawrentian experience.

While the benefits of employment are vast and mostly self evident, allow me to describe just a few of them. This year, Head Master Murray, and the administration in general, has wisely put an emphasis on experiential learning. What could give experience for life outside the bubble better than getting a job? Employment provides students not only the invaluable education of handling one’s finances but also can give students experience in other fields they want to go into, or just understanding how to work successfully in a professional atmosphere. Similarly, understanding how to earn what you need in life is an indispensable and irreplaceable facet of our education on which we shouldn’t be missing out.

Time to be honest: I don’t have a job. Nor have I ever had a job. And I am duly ashamed of that fact. While I will gladly take most of the responsibility for not taking the initiative, a part of it I leave to the culture of Lawrenceville. Keeping a job during the school year at Lawrenceville is all but impossible, and even in the summer, the college race encourages students to participate in costly summer programs, internships, and other activities which often prohibit students from less prestigious but as valuable opportunities. Even though many students and I at Lawrenceville are fortunate enough not to have to get jobs to support ourselves and our families financially, many students across the country must do so. Their employment ought to be as valued as fancy programs everywhere. Now, some teachers and college counselors may say that no college would eschew a student with a job, and I agree. However, Lawrenceville simply does not offer students the opportunity to get a job, thus undeniably showing that we value our other extracurriculars over providing students with firsthand work experience.

Thus, I propose a new stream of extracurriculars at Lawrenceville. Jobs at the Bathhouse. Mowing teachers’ lawns. Support and transportation for students wishing to find employment off-campus would also be ideal. In addition, many colleges provide work-study programs for students on financial aid. In short, providing Lawrentians with the unappreciated educational experience of student employment is something the Lawrenceville community ought to work on.