Young people who combine school and work must meet the requirements of two potentially demanding social roles. As hours of employment increase, adolescents may experience difficulties in juggling the demands of work and school, as well as other activities. Teachers often note that working students are tired in class and do not have time to do homework; in one study, teachers' negative attitudes toward employed students increased with the length of their teaching experience (Bills et al., 1995).
If students are employed, the demands—and rewards—of work may draw them away from school, decreasing their school attendance and increasing the likelihood that they will drop out altogether. This outcome would appear to be much more likely if the hours of work are long. Based on data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey, which followed students who were in 8th grade in 1988, Schoenhals and colleagues (1997) found that the number of hours worked had a statistically positive relationship to absences from school in the 10th grade—after controlling for background and demographic variables, school type, curriculum, prior academic performance, prior work experience, and early school behavior and misbehavior—especially among those who worked more than 30 hours per week. In the High School and Beyond Survey, which tracked a large representative panel of individuals who were high school sophomores in public school in 1980, Chaplin and Hannaway (1996) found that working more than 14 hours per week in the sophomore year (1980) was negatively related to school enrollment 2 and 4 years later, after accounting for demographic, background, family, and school characteristics. In the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, which followed a large representative panel of young people who were between 16 and 19 years old in 1979, Carr and colleagues (1996) found that working more hours per week during high school was associated with lower levels of educational attainment achieved for both males and females by the age of 28 to 31.
The number of weeks worked in high school was also associated with decreased educational attainment for males. These associations remained after controlling for a large number of individual and family differences. Similarly, Mihalic and Elliot (1997) found that working for more than 1 year during high school was associated with lower educational aspirations. Marsh (1991), using data from