UTSA study: Work, going to school doesn’t hurt students academically

Urban Education Institute also sees tight job market, need for internships

The UTSA Urban Education Institute studied high school students and the first jobs they had and the impact internships or mentors can have on them.

SAN ANTONIO – The UTSA Urban Education Institute has compiled a study that contains both encouraging and disappointing news for high school students who have jobs outside of the classroom.

Mike Villarreal, director of the Urban Education Institute, said research data showed working and going to school doesn’t hurt students academically, even for those taking advanced or dual credit courses.

“Their work doesn’t take away from their rigorous coursework,” Villarreal said, but it could if they take on more than they can handle.

He said for many, it could be an eye-opening, real world experience.

“It helps our young people develop an understanding of the culture of work,” Villarreal said. “Having these work-based opportunities is formative.”

However, the study also found there are now fewer of those opportunities.

The study surveyed more than 200,000 who were students between 2004-2018, during a time when the Great Recession hit.

He said the jobs that were lost then didn’t rebound to what youth employment rates were prior to the recession.

“I’m concerned that in this pandemic, which also hit teenagers the hardest, we’re going to see again a drop that doesn’t fully recover,” Villarreal said.

He said the majority of those jobs were in the food industry, retail, arts and entertainment that were crippled by the pandemic.

“Now is the time to redouble our efforts to expand and diversify the jobs and opportunities available to our students, either through part-time jobs, summer internships, or job-shadowing experiences,” Villarreal said.

The UTSA Urban Education Institute was commissioned by SA Works within the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation that offers a high school internship program.

Villarreal said the institute studied youth employment trends to help SA Works “develop and improve and expand their internship program.”

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.