News icon For Estes, Work Is on the Menu This Summer

Through serving diners at 290 Maine Street in Norway, rising Mitchell Scholar Chloe Estes is a financial stakeholder in her own success.

At $10,000 over four years, a Mitchell Scholarship is a significant help in closing the college affordability gap for recipients. But rare is the Scholar who doesn’t work one or more part-time jobs to help cover tuition, room and board, books, and other incidental expenses. And for Scholars, there’s no better time to earn — and save for next fall — than summer.

Chloe Estes, the 2022 Mitchell Scholar from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, hasn’t yet started her college career studying business at the University of Maine. But she is already well versed in the economics of earning a degree — and she’s already a financial stakeholder in her own success.

“I will be the first in my family to attend college,” Estes explained while preparing for another busy shift of serving patrons at the downtown Norway restaurant 290 Maine Street. “When I decided I wanted to earn a four-year degree, I started taking honors and AP courses. I also started working to save money for college. My parents were and continue to be very supportive, but I knew I would have to contribute financially to make it possible.”

Since her sophomore year of high school, Estes has worked 15 to 20 hours each week at 290 Maine Street, and she says the part-time job has enhanced her high school years.

“The people I work with here are really what make the job rewarding. The owner has been flexible about giving me shifts around sports and extracurricular activities,” she said. “When I get settled in college next year, I hope to find part-time work as a server at a nearby restaurant so I can keep earning money and make similar connections at work.”

Setting up the outdoor dining area, refilling condiment containers, and mopping the floor are among the many things Estes needs to do before the start of another busy shift. 

Estes’ experience aligns with historical data the Mitchell Institute has collected on Scholars and their part-time employment over the years. Nearly 80% of current Scholars report having worked while they were in high school, including during the school year, for an average of 13 hours per week. Moreover, 65% of current Scholars work during the academic year, averaging 18 hours a week. Of that work experience, 42% is considered professional or semi-professional (e.g., research, teaching, or an internship), 42% is non-professional (e.g., custodial or food service), and 16% includes tasks and activities considered both professional and non-professional.

“One of the first questions we ask on the Mitchell Scholarship application is whether students have a part-time job and how many hours a week they work,” said Jared Cash, President and CEO of the Mitchell Institute. “We want Scholars to be financially invested in their higher education experience and to learn the values associated with hard work, as well as the time-management skills that come from integrating school and part-time employment.”

After mopping the floor, setting up tables, and filling condiment containers, Estes had a few minutes to spare before 290 Maine Street opened its doors to a hungry lunch crowd — time enough for one more question: Has her own pursuit of college had an impact on her younger sister, who is now a sophomore at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School?

“Yes,” said Estes with a smile. “I can tell she’s thinking more about college after seeing what I have done. She is starting to take more challenging classes in high school.”

And chances are good that a part-time job will be in the works.