Handling academic pressure in high school

Fresh(man) Voices

I was in a classroom one day last month talking to my friend about an upcoming meeting with my counselor.     

As we discussed our academic future, my friend started to talk about how stressed he was. When I brought up the prospect of him talking to the counselor for help, he laughed at me. 

I was confused. Why would he be laughing about this?

Just then my teacher came by and asked what we were talking about. I explained and thought perhaps he would bring more clarity to the situation.

Instead, he too laughed, leaving me even more bewildered. A student and more surprisingly, a teacher, were laughing about the idea of our own school dealing with the issues of their own students.

As students, we are all familiar with that dreadful, all- consuming feeling of stress. A lot of this stress we experience can be self-inflicted, like those times when we wait until the last minute to turn in a paper or cram for a test the next day. 

But a lot of this stress comes upon us in an undeserving manner. Far too many times have tests been scheduled with an absurdly short amount of time for preparation. Whether the stress we feel is a fault of our own or unnecessarily doled out, something must be done. 

I cannot say that I have been  personally affected by an unmanageable amount of stress this year. But it completely baffles me to see my friends who once sported straight A’s on their report cards fall to grades they had never even received before. 

The same people who were once bright and cheerful eighth graders are now the ones needing to be cheered up. 

This poses my question; Why isn’t anything being done to combat this?

Even with awareness, the general attitude toward dealing with stress seems to have a “deal with it and move on” type of mindset. The problem with this response is the fact that nothing actually gets fixed. Students continuously go through that same cycle of stress and without the resources, the cycle leads to much worse things. 

To understand the reality of the problem at our school, I researched the homework policy implemented by the district. According to the district website, the homework policy is “an effort to reduce student stress” and restricts each course taken to only assign 30 minutes of homework per night.

“[Teachers] say they follow it, but then they give us hours worth of classwork at the end of a period so we have to finish it at home,” sophomore Felix Lockhart said.

I agree with Felix. This has happened to me and my peers countless number of times.  When I asked students how they managed their stress, the general answer I received went along the lines of, “I don’t most of the time” or “I freak out and cry.” 

Although the second response I received may have been more on the joking side, the same message comes through: we don’t deal with our own stress and challenges the right way. Or maybe we just don’t know how to.

It seems like to end this ever growing stress rate among us, we need compromise from both ends, the teachers and the students.  

“Think about what [teachers] are assigning and not simply that they are barely giving any because that is just one class,” freshman Richa Prabhakar said. “They don’t know what other teachers are assigning.”

But students need to learn to deal with their own stress as well. 

Math teacher Bob  Allen summed up the issue perfectly. 

“Students have to realize there are some classes where homework and doing work outside of school is going to take a big part of their time,” Allen said. “Learning to deal with stress, is learning your limits and making acceptances for it.” 

In the end, whether you’re a teacher or a student, none of us enjoy the feeling of stress. It might be a tough problem to deal with it, but it’s certainly solvable.

Fresh(man) Voices is a monthly column featuring different freshmen writers. Freshmen can submit columns to [email protected] or [email protected].