As the days of school roll by, the homework loads get heavier, the tests get closer, the projects get assigned, and for some students, their lives start to disappear.
Now, some students live the typical high school life: get decent grades, play a few sports, watch Netflix after school, hang out with friends on the weekend. Life isn’t amazing, but it’s not necessarily hard. But for a lot of students at Howell it’s much more hectic than that. Many of us are in multiple AP classes, if not our whole schedule. There’s no Netflix after school, just homework unless you want to be up at two a.m. Friday nights are spent working on the seemingly endless pile of homework for the weekend. The craziest it gets is doing homework with friends.
The pressure to take all these classes is like a boulder crashing down on you. There’s the parents who want their kids to be the best at almost everything. Some common comments are those such as “You got a 94%? Where did the other six percent go?” and “What do you mean you have too much homework to go out to dinner as a family?” Parents often expect their children to get perfect grades yet also have time for jobs, chores, sports, clubs, and, of course, family time.
Next we have the school, who basically shoves AP/Honor courses in kids’ faces. If you can take, then you best take it. They will try all they can to have a student take as many advanced courses as possible, and once you sign up, it’s almost impossible to drop. In the middle school days, teachers and counselors used to warn students against taking all the honor classes, but once we hit high school only a select few are really concerned with our sanity.
Then lastly, there are the daunting college applications. Colleges these days need a transcript filled with advanced courses, perfect ACT scores, outstanding GPAs, endless clubs and activities, volunteer work, and numerous leadership roles. Big surprise, but there isn’t enough time in four years to get all those done. Some are almost unattainable. Getting into college is a major stressor for students, let alone trying to figure out how to pay for it. The lure of scholarships makes students feel the need to try just that much harder to maybe get rewarded one.
From personal experience, this amount of pressure and stress is incredibly harming. My mental state has steadily decreased throughout high school. Anxiety over presentations and tests and essays and grades and finals have taken over. Depression has already latched onto me because of how hopeless it all seems sometimes. All my life is, is work. And I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. I’ve witnessed many panic attacks while my friends have been trying to study for a big chemistry test. I’ve comforted friends who’ve felt worthless due to ACT scores. I’ve seen students breakdown after seeing their grades in class. Just all of it gets to us.
Besides the mental, there’s also the physical. Last year, I was riddled with stress migraines that caused my version to blur. I got one almost everyday from mid third quarter throughout the rest of the year. The day grades were finalized, the day they stopped. I didn’t get one migraine over the summer, yet the first day of school when faced with the workload I was going to have this year, I got a migraine. Right now, I am getting tendinitis in my wrist from writing so many notes at school and at home. AP Economics notes, AP Government notes, along with all the writing in English makes it so painful it hurts to even send a quick text on my phone.
The most astounding thing about the amount of school stress AP students are under I discovered this summer. I was in South Korea and I had the wonderful chance of talking with some Korean high school students. When we were discussing the differences in our schools, it turned out that they have more free time than most AP students do. They have time to go shopping and hang out with friends after school. This is a country known for the immense pressure on students and how highly they value education, yet their students have more of a life than we do.
To parents, teachers, colleges, the school, and the students themselves, it would be very beneficial to all of us if students could get a break.