Getting a summer job as a teenager is pretty typical.

But what about during the school year? What motivates teens to get a job while in high school?

Well, if you want something in life, you must do what you can to reach your dream, no matter how small this dream may be. Many teenagers want to have a car, but their family cannot afford buying a new car, or paying for the high insurance their child would need for a car. Or what about those teenagers who want money to buy a new CD or just have some extra cash to go out with friends, but their parents cannot provide their teens with extra money?

These are just some of the most common reasons why most teenagers have jobs while in high school. According to some of this past year’s seniors at Toppenish High School, here are some of the common reasons why teenagers are interested in finding a job:

Miguel Landeros has been working at Safeway for nearly two years and, because of that job, he says with a noticeable touch of pride in his voice, “I paid for my car all by myself.”

Landeros started working because he wanted more freedom in his life and wanted to be responsible.

“I wasn’t able to get what I want because I never had money. So I found a job and that solved my problem,” he says.

Another reason why high school students get jobs is to help provide for their family.

That’s what Amy Gonzales, a McDonald’s crew member in Zillah, does.

“I just take out what I need for gas but I give the rest of my check to my mom to help pay for bills,” she says.

Students who chose to work during high school have to balance their jobs with academics.

“Managing time between school and work is kind of hard,” says Aracely Magna, who has worked at Safeway for about half a year. “Especially since some days I would rather come home and sleep than do homework, but it should not be that way. But working has honestly made my social life a bit better because now I have money to go out with friends.”

In a study published in the Winter 2007 issue of the Journal of Human Resources, Donna S. Rothstein found that the grade-point averages of teens who had jobs were no different than the GPAs of those who did not work. High school students who hold jobs learn responsibility and gain experience in the workforce, but tend to stress about their social life and how well they will do in school. Teens become consumed by their jobs and spend less time with friends due to the responsibility of having a job.

“Students who work longer hours are likely to display less engagement, less motivation and less effort to learn,” wrote researchers Kusum Singh, Sandra Dika and Mido Chang in an article titled “Effects of Part-Time Work on School Achievement During High School,” which was published in the Journal of Educational Research in 2007.

Having a job could be an exciting experience and signify the transition to entering adulthood and accepting responsibilities. Jobs are a great way for high school students to earn extra money for fun or help provide for their family. However, working students must be self-motivated in order to stay on top of their schoolwork and still have time to enjoy being a teen.

• Audrey Navarro graduated from Toppenish High School earlier this month and is a member of Yakima Herald-Republic’s Unleashed journalism program for high school students.