Work vs School

Like most of you, I spent my youth in school. Like some of you, I have also had jobs. Here I’d like to share some of my thoughts on the two of them.


School uniforms are crap. They’re expensive, uncomfortable, boiling hot in summer, and freezing cold in winter. And it doesn’t help that there are absolutely cruel teachers who yell at you for disrespecting the school if you dare to tie your sweater around your waist on a hot summer day, or in my case, one who would yell at you for not wearing the uniform at all if you dared to have an open jacket on over your complete uniforms on a cold winter day when the heating isn’t working.

Work uniforms, in contrast, consist only of a t-shirt or jumper, with the trousers and shoes either being already owned by the employee, or the sort of common, generic things they can wear even outside work. Furthermore, the t-shirt is generally quite soft and comfortable, and since it’s mandatory and has to be made specially, the company provides it instead of forcing you to shell out for something you wouldn’t wear if you didn’t have to.

At a higher level, or even just in more easy-going companies, there are no uniforms at all. While this doesn’t mean you can wear just anything, there is at least some leeway for deciding what kind of shirt or trousers you want.


OK, so you can’t treat kids or teenagers as adults. They’re generally only in school because it’s the law, and would much rather be somewhere else. Hence, the teacher acts as prison warden, forcing the inmates to follow a set of arbitrary rules on threat of punishment. If you dare to speak up, you get shouted down.

At work, this is the sort of unacceptable behaviour that brings at best complaints on the Internet, at worst a firing. In any slightly decent workplace, people of all ranks actually talk and listen to each other, with anger and shouting down the result of doing something objectively wrong and not mere insubordination. It’s a fantastic system.


Nobody makes money for attending school. In fact, plenty of schools will ‘strongly suggest’ you make a ‘voluntary’ contribution to the amount they specify, which can be around €200. In fact, every working person has to pay for children to attend school through taxes. (Just to be clear, I have no objection to my tax euros paying for schools; I’m just pointing out that no pupil makes money from school).

At work, you get money every week or month. If you’re earning a wage, the amount you get is directly proportional to the amount you work. If you get a salary, it tends to be fixed as long as you get your task done, but there are occasionally bonuses to reward going above and beyond the call of duty. Sure, taxes are taken out of your payslip to pay for things like schools, but you’re still taking home money you didn’t have at the start of the week.

When I was a kid, I pointed this out to my parents when they insisted that work was worse than school. They, naturally enough, retorted that when the tax was taken out, they still had to pay mortgage (rent might be more appropriate in your specific case), electricity, fuel, food, clothes, cleaning supplies, and all that other stuff, so that in the end, they didn’t have nearly so much left.

They were right. And also wrong. As long as you’re spending less than you earn, you still have at least a little money to spend on fun stuff. If you’re a parent, quite a lot of that probably goes to your kids anyway, but that’s your choice of what to spend it on. And even if you only bring home the exact amount needed to pay your bills, if you are paying those bills, you have something else.


If you’re paying for your own house/home/accomodation, you can come and go as you please, do as you wish, and never eat anything you don’t actually like. I’m not necessarily saying that’s a good idea, but the point is, you’re free to do it if you wish. And that’s something you can’t get while you’re at school.


The school day is generally seven hours long; work typically lasts at least eight, sometimes more. Objectively, this is an area that school has over work; subjectively, however, it doesn’t feel nearly as bad, since the uniform policy, degree of respect, and amount money make it all so much more bearable.


School gives you several months in total of free time per year. Work gives you maybe four weeks. If you love your job, that isn’t so bad; however, if you’re just working to pay the bills, school is suddenly a whole lot more attractive.

But I still think the extra freedom you have all the rest of the year is worth it.

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