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Are students too busy?

By Jordan Patton | May | June 2020
A common trend across the country is the increasing number of high school students becoming chronically stressed. According to a study conducted by the Frontiers in Psychology, led by Noelle R. Leonard, nearly half (49 percent) of the 128 surveyed students reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis. Many factors contribute to this trend, including enormous workloads brought about by the school curriculum, as well as social pressure caused by a constant need to be competitive for colleges. As the years progress, high schoolers are adding more and more to their workload. Students at my high school are taking on average four Advanced Placement classes along with intensive extracurriculars. AP teachers require their students to be more analytical with their assignments and typically assign more homework compared to on-level courses. So why would students want to take AP classes knowing the work is more challenging and intensive? Class rank. GPA. Self-Gratification. There is a collective need among high schoolers to be overachievers and this could have detrimental side effects.  According to a national study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about seven out of 10 high school students report that they did not get enough sleep. Sleep is an integral part of one’s physical and mental health. Striving to receive good grades in these AP classes while trying to participate in extracurriculars like sports could limit resting time. I struggle with trying to balance a bunch of responsibilities. While time management and organization help me to keep everything in order, I tend to sleep less because of the amount of work I receive in school. The pressure to succeed is real and it is important that students are able to take a break every once in a while. The college admissions process has geared students to become busier than usual. “College admission exacerbates the stress young people feel by feeding competition among classmates,’’ Brennan Barnard, a Forbes contributor, writes on the college admissions process. “From comparing test scores to obsessing about class rank, schools create a Hunger Games environment where students are clamoring for a coveted spot at a selective college or university” (Barnard, 2019). Students feel pressured to participate in every opportunity that comes their way, just so that they meet the standards of a prestigious Ivy League university. While this can be seen as a motivating factor within students to achieve more, it can be damaging to one’s self-esteem and mental health. “We regret to inform you that we could not offer you admission to our university at this time.” Those gut-wrenching words could potentially break a hopeful high school student, making them believe they are not good enough to attend their top college. From acceptance rates to high SAT score requirements, students tend to add on to their stressful workload to become increasingly competitive. Barnard continues to discuss the idea of “hyper-scheduling” and how students feel as though they must do everything with little time to eat or sleep (Barnard, 2019). While this is an undeniable truth, colleges are becoming more lenient with their admissions process. A lot of colleges are becoming test-optional which allows students who do not score well on the SAT or ACT to showcase their other skills. Are students too busy? Yes, they are. Is it a problem? Yes and no. Students must prepare for the many responsibilities college will bring. This pressure that students receive could affect one’s stress and limit the amount of sleep they receive, so it is also important for students to take care of themselves and their mental health by taking occasional breaks. References Barnard, Brennan. “What Matters In College Admission.” Forbes, Nov. 20, 2019.

Jordan Patton is a student at Marshall Fundamental in the Pasadena Unified School District

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