High school students are always looking for ways to look good in the eyes of college admissions deans. Does having an after school job at Starbucks or McDonald’s help or hurt? It helps. Not all teens can volunteer their time or go on trips to foreign countries to immerse themselves in a second language. Some have to get a part-time job to help pay the bills and that’s okay.

According to an article in Newsweek magazine, college admissions deans are seeing fewer high-school students who hold part-time jobs. They think teens may be pulling away from jobs at places like Burger King because they think it won’t look good on their application. According to Lee Coffin, the director of undergrad admissions at Tufts University, it’s not what a teen does, it’s what they make of what they do. Coffin recalls a powerful essay from a girl who described what she learned from her coworkers at a fast food restaurant. Teens with jobs are also seen as go getters. College admissions deans know that jobs build confidence, teach valuable life skills, and encourage kids to save and spend money wisely.

In fact, a teen with a job has a head start on adult life. They’ll already be familiar with what it’s like to work hard, work with people of all ages and cultural backgrounds, and they’re better able to follow instructions, work as a team, and take responsibility. A teen who’s never worked may find their first job post-college a hard dose of reality. However, if you’re a teen with an after-school job, don’t let it get in the way of your academics. You should always prioritize school over work because if you don’t have the grades, it doesn’t matter if you work with the homeless or flip burgers. You won’t get into the school you want.