Running out of time

Schoolwork turnaround rate is faster than students expected

At Jones, there are high expectations for students to do well in school. Whether this presumption is made by the students themselves or others, it exists. Virtual learning made this self-imposed standard easier to meet, as teachers were more lenient with grading and deadlines. However, the transition back to school after a year of remote learning has made it more difficult to adapt to heavy course loads and once-again demanding schedules. As students become increasingly engulfed in their school work, a damaging mindset begins to form, and it can lead to school taking over the lives of students.

The need to achieve unrealistic academic goals is often implanted into people from a young age. Students are told that, in order to be successful in life, you must do well in school. Many students are scared that if they don’t do well in school, they’ll end up with an unfulfilling and difficult life. After all, if you don’t do well in school how will you get into a decent college? And if you don’t get into a quality college, how will you get a good job and make money? Oftentimes, teenagers put school above all else in an attempt to guarantee them entrance into a respectable college and therefore a fruitful future. According to the Statista research department, 83% of teenage stress results from school.

 Remote learning relieved some academic stress, as  relaxed grading and deadlines gave time for people to focus on interests outside of school. However, as the school year goes on, the decrease in free time becomes more apparent. With less free time, there has been an increase in stress, as the limited time students have is usually spent working on and finalizing assignments to complete on time. According to an NPR poll conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, ¨…almost 40 percent of parents say their highschooler is experiencing a lot of stress from school.¨ If all their time is spent on school, mental health is destined to suffer.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 87% of high school students in the United States get far less sleep than the recommended 8-10 hours. One of the main factors of sleep deprivation among students is a demanding academic schedule and heavy school workloads. Sleep isn’t the only thing students are losing, as they often miss out on meals and social events in order to complete assignments. According to a Stanford Research study on the pitfalls of schoolwork, many highschool students in ten high-performing highschools recorded sleep deprivation and health issues, such as weight loss and headaches, as a result of a heavy workload. 

Some may say that in order to get into a good college and have a successful future, students have to prioritize their academic record and put mental health aside. The college application process perpetuates this harmful idea and students face even more pressure to exceed high standards to gain an advantage in the admissions process. According to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, admission officers review an applicant’s grades and coursework rigor as an important aspect of determining the admission of a student and encourage applicants to take on a demanding course load. 

Colleges don’t just look at an applicant’s grades, they look at a student’s extracurriculars as well. According to Post University, “extracurricular activities provide colleges with more insight into who you are as a person and what your interests and goals are.” If a student’s time is completely consumed by schoolwork, how will they have time for extracurricular activities? If anything, being consumed by schoolwork is worse for applying to college, as there is nothing else to demonstrate but grades.

Some may ask, “How can we stop this?” The answer is simple: communicate with your teachers, voice your concerns, and advocate for schoolwork to be done at school. Teachers aren’t just here to teach, they’re here to listen and guide students. Talk to them, and tell them how you’re feeling. It’s likely they have gone through the same struggle students are going through now, and can emphasize. Further, it’s important to remove the ingrained idea in students’ heads that grades are the most important thing in their lives. Students need to allocate time for themselves for the benefit of their mental and physical health. 

A successful life should not be tied down to one´s grades or academic ranking, but rather the relationships that they form and the interests that make them happy. As students transition back to in-person learning, it is important to acknowledge the importance of self-care and leisure for the well-being of young teenagers. Time for oneself shouldn’t be seen as a privilege, but a necessity and school shouldn’t take priority over self-care.