To work or not to work, that is the question

Senior Wesley Unger prefers to detassel, rogue, and volunteer during the summer instead of working in the school year. Detasseling, roguing, and volunteering are jobs concerning the upkeep of cornfields.

Maya Peirce, Co-Editor

At some point in almost every high school student’s career, they face a choice: to work, or not to work. It’s the time-old debate of choosing either money, education, or maybe even furthering an education while earning money. How much is too much? And when is it not enough?

Students like senior Wesley Unger get a taste of both worlds by detasseling during the summer and focusing on studies during the school year.

Unger started his third year of detasseling during the second week of June. For the next two months, he followed a regular routine of waking up at 4 a.m., driving to Seward, and riding on a bus for up to 45 minutes just to get to a field. Once there, he’d either rogue, volunteer, or detassel depending on the schedule.

Being a member of one of the highest paid detasseling crews in Iowa and Neb., there was plenty of competition for the top spots, which were determined by how fast and how well you went through your rows.

“I always got a seat in the front of the bus,” Unger said. “We get paid by row, so right when the bus stops and they open the doors, everyone rushes out to get their row first.”

Over the summer, detasselers can earn thousands of dollars within a short span of time. But money like that doesn’t come without hard work and a little pain. During the detasseling portion, Unger would work every weekday and weekend, rain or shine.

In detasseling, an employee is paid based on the number of and how fast rows are detasseled. On his first day, Unger said he ran about eight miles in two hours and only got third place for the day. He said blisters were common amongst workers, and once when he had them, Unger took off his shoes and started booking it down the rows in the mud. By going faster, Unger said he probably made an extra $15.

“I just started sprinting down these fields because I wanted to get to the final rounds. I’d go back and down, [the rows] were supposed to be clean and I tried, but I still got two more than I probably would have that day if I hadn’t taken off my shoes,” Unger said.

By the time the detasselers returned home, it could be late in the afternoon. Unger said that his longest day lasted thirteen hours and they didn’t get back until six in the evening. He didn’t have much time to spend with friends and having to work seven days a week, Unger said he practically lived in Seward.

“It was rough, but it was worth it. When the school year starts, you’re happy that you did it,” Unger said.

Other summer jobs aren’t as physically demanding as detasseling and don’t pay as well, but can help pave the road into future careers.

Between sports camps and summer college classes, senior Macy Grotelueschen spent most of her summer working as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) at David’s Place. There, she helped residents with daily activities like walking, eating, and getting to bed.

“During the summer, you can work more hours. But it also takes away from your free time when you want to go swimming or to a bonfire. You’re limited on what you can do, because my shift is from two to ten. That takes up your whole afternoon and evening.”

Working eight hour shifts, Grotelueschen said she racked up around 200 hours total during the summer. The school year was a different story. In the month of September, she worked sixteen hours and only on weekends.

“I like working in the summer because I don’t have to worry about getting my homework done or other things,” Grotelueschen said. “[During the school year], if I’d work on a Sunday, I’d be up until probably one in the morning trying to get my homework done. It’s not really book assignments, but the projects.”

To compromise, Grotelueschen tries to avoid Sundays, but with volleyball on most Saturdays, that proved to be difficult. Although, with her personal life being her school life, Grotelueschen said that it isn’t hard for her to find a balance. But when it comes to schoolwork, Grotelueschen noticed that her work schedule could have an effect on her education. She believes she probably doesn’t put as much effort into bigger projects as she could if she had less busy weekends.

While some students use their weekends to rake in some moolah, others reserve Saturday and Sunday to recuperate from the week’s stress.

Such is the case for senior Mariah Houser, who has, at one point, worked three separate jobs.

Houser now only keeps two of the three by spending most hours at the David City Discount Pharmacy as a clerk, while working web design for two websites on the side. During the summer, Houser would come home to work on websites for Columbus Horse Racing and the Thorpe Opera House, the second being published recently.

Since school has started, Houser said she has encountered a more stressful situation.

“I’ll wake up in the morning, go to school, go to the pharmacy right after school, then One-Act practice, then I’ll come home at, like, ten o’clock and do an hour of homework.”

Houser found that a benefit of working year-round was learning responsibility, time management and earning money.

“If you think about it, yeah you have to read a chapter for English and do a math assignment. How long is that really going to take, as long as you keep up with it? Granted, college classes have more, but if you don’t procrastinate, you have time.”

Apart from school and work, Houser keeps up an avid social life amongst friends. She tries to get all of her homework done during the week so she can spend the weekends with her family and friends.

“You have that obligation,” Houser said. “It’s not like you can just be like, ‘I’m tired and I have to do my homework, I’m gonna call in to work.’ Yeah, people go to sports, but they can still work after that. If you plan everything out right, you’re not going to have wicked amounts of homework.”