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For Students, Labor Laws May Limit Work Hours

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on August 26, 2013 8:32 AM

Whether it's high school or college, students are working themselves to the bone, according to a new survey by Citigroup and Seventeen magazine. Nearly 80 percent of students are rolling up their shirt sleeves at least part-time during the school year, the study found.

The findings on student employment -- which included high school and college students -- raise legal issues and concerns about the educational future of our country's youth.

Hour Restrictions

At the high school level, most states restrict students to 18 hours of work per week during the school year, according to the Department of Labor.

Colleges, on the other hand, recommend or even mandate that students only work 10 to 15 hours a week, reports ThinkProgress.

The survey findings fly in the face of these rules. On average, students work 19 hours a week, according to the study.

More disconcerting, the data indicated that many work well over 20 hours a week and some even hold full-time jobs.

Apart from the legal issues, the findings are troubling because students who work more than 15 to 20 hours per week often experience lower school success, which can lead to dropping out entirely, according to the College Board.

Finding Balance

Many of these students are products of the Great Recession of 2008 who are joining the workforce out of necessity, not choice.

If you're trying to save for college or supplement family income, balance and strategic planning is essential.

Your best bet is to seek employment that helps your educational goals. Easier said than done, right? Fear not, young cynic.

Since unpaid internships may be on the legal outs, snagging a job that both advances your professional ambitions and covers your costs may be more feasible than you think.

Market Yourself

With plenty of fish a school of fingerlings in the sea, you need to set yourself apart. Some strategies that may work to your benefit include:

For more tips, check out FindLaw's free miniguide on The Hiring Process.

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