Seniors Leaving School Early To Work

by Briana Sisler ’24

The school day typically consists of seven periods and a lunch break. However, seniors have the opportunity to apply for a partial schedule and leave school for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is working. There has been a noticeable influx in students requesting–and receiving–shortened schedules to work at their jobs.

In order to acquire a partial schedule a student needs to meet with their counselor, request a Request for Approval for Part-Time Secondary Schedule form, and demonstrate a need to leave school early. In practice at Sherwood, proof of a job is considered enough of a “need” for an abbreviated schedule. Counselors will guide students through the process gathering the necessary materials and altering their schedules. Counselors may ask a student for a pay stub, time slip, or the hours worked as proof of a job. Students will also outline how many periods they wish to drop, the maximum being three periods. Counselors will not recommend seniors who are not on track to complete all their required credits for graduation.

After the application is recommended for approval or disapproval by the counselor, the form is sent to administration to be officially approved. Currently it is not recommended for seniors to apply for a half-day schedule this late into the year due to potential issues it could cause with transcripts and college applications. The best time to apply is by October 2 or during the previous year.

The aim of the partial schedules is to allow students to develop the skills necessary after high school and in the real world, such as being responsible enough to retain a job and earn money. It is unclear why students would not be able to develop such skills at jobs they work outside the regular school day.

Counselor Jamii Avery said that counselors very rarely disapprove requests for abbreviated schedules for the purpose of working. However, she shared some of her concerns about seniors with shortened schedules. “If students aren’t taking more rigorous classes in school and are taking the time instead to leave early and go to work, colleges might see that and ask why,” said Avery. “Students shouldn’t be taking an easy senior year, and the concern is whether students are keeping up the rigor even though they have less periods.” Another concern, according to Avery, is whether students will breeze through senior year and then struggle with their first year in college, similar to how many students struggled after they returned from a year of virtual learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Principal Timothy Britton said that the school will approve students for partial-day schedules if their job “is something they want to make part of their future.” He said the factors that the school considers is similar to what parents would want to know: “Safety, what type of job they are doing, how many days of the week are they working, and how many days of the week are they sitting at home when they could be in school.”

After Sherwood counseling and then administration approves students for a partial schedule for working, the school does not track what days or hours the students are at the job during regular school hours. There also is not a process in place to know that students keep the job for which they were approved throughout the school year.