Wasted Time

Students today face more difficult challenges than generations before them. These challenges can be difficult to defeat, but they are not impossible.  

It is no secret that high school can be difficult. Making friends, preparing for the next step after high school, and navigating toward adulthood are all things that high school students go through. The added pressure of doing one’s best in school can be enough to make anyone go over the edge. Some of this pressure can most certainly be minimized. 

Doing well in school is something that mainly relies on how much time and effort that students put into their studies. However, with excessive work, it can be hard to do. “Sometimes it gets to a point where I have to stay up until midnight or even one o’clock finishing homework and studying,” said junior Essa Kassissieh. 

For many students, school is something that creates stress in their lives. “I feel more stressed than I used to and school definitely contributes to that,” said junior Owen Fraley. 

Today, students face more distractions than any generation before and it can harm academic achievement. Psychology teacher Mrs. Stephanie Hartnedy said, “If a student is overwhelmed by the workload of school but is willing to pour hours a day into the distractions, the solution is obvious: a readjustment of priorities is in order. Electronic distractions are designed to be addictive, to keep the person engaged indefinitely. A person without a plan and the resolve to stick to it is easy prey. Excessive electronic distraction indulgence is correlated with poor school performance, decreased motivation, and increased anxiety and depression. Moderation is the key.” 

But it can be too easy to just tell teenagers that they should just stop being distracted by technology. There have been countless movements and organizations that have tried to help smokers quit and show them the long-term effects of smoking, yet millions of adults still smoke in the U.S. Social media will not cause the death of students, but it can damage them and their academic careers. 

One reason school can create stress for students is not just because of the workload, but also because of the timing. Many students end up having multiple tests or quizzes on one day, so even if they prepare in advance, it can be difficult to deal with. One way to ease the stress on students is for teachers to coordinate with each other. This would not avoid all scheduling conflicts, but it would make life easier for students with very little effort. “I would love it if teachers coordinated with each other for projects and tests so that I would not end up with multiple things on one day,” said Kassissieh. 

This would also help the most during the most hectic times of the year. “It would definitely be easier,” said Fraley. “Especially before final exams, because there are always a million things due then, plus exams to study for, so it gets really stressful.”  

However, schools are ideally not just trying to teach students the curriculum; the school’s job is to prepare them for the real world. “I assign based on the material being covered in my class,” said Mrs. Hartnedy. “It’s a more realistic reflection of the real world. For example, the electric, internet, insurance, and mortgage companies do not consider each other’s plans when billing customers in the real world. They just send you the bills.”

Another way to lower stress among students could be for teachers to assign less homework. According to the book, Overloaded and Underprepared Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids, only 20 to 30 percent of students feel that their homework is helpful or useful. There is no meaningful research that suggests that excessive homework is beneficial to students.

School should be a great place where students learn and ideally enjoy school. Instead, nearly 75% of students hold a negative opinion about school, according to a survey conducted by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. A portion of that 75% is most certainly due to stress caused by endless assignments. If such an overwhelming majority of students have a distaste for school, something is wrong. If 75% of a company’s workforce disliked working at that company, the employers would realize the negative effects it was having on the company, such as low productivity and a bad work environment and culture, and try to fix it. Schools either have not noticed that students do not like being there or they just do not care.

This dislike of school has also carried over into how students feel. According to a Centers for Disease Control survey, 44% of high school students have said that they have felt sad and/or hopeless for multiple days in a row. While it is true that schools likely do cause some of these problems, they are not the only source. Teenagers face a variety of pressures besides the academic workload,” said Mrs. Hartnedy.  “Some endure parental conflict and home-life instability, most have access to 24-7 news information (most of which is fairly traumatic, and that teens of previous generations were oblivious to due to limitations of technology), some battle addiction, mental health, or medical issues for self or family members, etc. So yes, school is a part of this equation, and can be a source of stress, especially without the tools to handle the workload.” 

Many students at the school share this sentiment. “Some teachers will give us homework for ‘practice.’ There is a line when it comes to when it comes to how much homework teachers should give students,” said Kassissieh. “We have a life beyond school.” 

While it is most certainly true that high school students should be able to manage all of their classes, teachers should still be mindful that students should not be bogged down with assignments. “I think it’s a time management problem, in most cases,” said Mrs. Hartnedy.  “I also think that students benefit from training in how to manage the workload, and do not benefit from artificially easing the workload.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *