How Much School is Too Much School?

One thing that stays constant in the life of a student is schoolwork. 

Ever since elementary school, school work has been a part of the lives of students all over the world; as our education progresses, so does our workload. Stress makes its grand entrance as we enter middle school, and start to get a hint as to what the next 6-10 years of our lives would look like. 

As a fifth-grader, I remember being so excited to enter middle school because I had heard that you get more choices and freedom there. During the three years I spent in middle school, all the hopes I had built up in elementary school crumpled before me. My brother often told me that everyone hates middle school and that high school is ten times better than middle school. Freshman and sophomore year of high school went just as my brother said, fairly easy with way more freedom. It was not until March of 2020 when COVID-19 started to spread around the world that my life as a high school student began to get significantly more difficult.

Switching to an online learning platform for the remainder of sophomore year was hard to get accustomed to, and the workload for school became too much for students to handle. Going into junior year I knew it would not be an easy year for me. Everyone had told me that junior year would be the most stressful year for any high school student, but I was not ready for what this year had to bring. On top of AP (Advanced Placement) classes, there were club activities and preparation for the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) to worry about which created an insane amount of stress in my life.

There are days when I get home and immediately start work and do not finish until midnight because of how much work I have to do for all of my classes. This year I have also started to realize just how close I am to graduating and how I have to begin to think about what I want to do with my future after high school. The anxiety and stress that have accumulated over the past year have caused my mental health to plummet, but having positive friends around has really helped me get through days when I feel like I have no motivation to do anything. 

I wanted to get some feedback from students about how their junior year has been so far and these are some comments I received:

“I feel like school has progressively gotten less fun compared to how it was supposed to be and what we were told as children,” Isabella Santiago, a junior at Denmark High School, expressed. “I feel like at this time our stress and classwork are at an all-time high and there is not much being done for the safety of the students. This whole experience has changed the way I have perceived school because before, it was about learning the concept but now it is about getting the grade and forgetting it all next semester.”

 “As I’ve progressed through high school, I feel that we students are feeling more and more of the pressure to do well and stay on top,” Emily Kuhl, a junior at Lambert High School stated. “I remember ever since I was younger I’ve loved school and learning, and though that hasn’t changed, I can definitely tell that now I have to push myself even more to stay successful because of the hardships that come with junior year: AP classes, testing, and college prep. It’s no longer just a place where we go to gain knowledge and make friends, but now it seems like our whole life.”

As I conducted these interviews I noticed a lot of students struggled with some of the same things. The mental health of students has progressively worsened as they transitioned to another grade every year. 

So what can schools do to help students who suffer from stress and anxiety? Some schools have wellness activities for students to try and help, but even then students continue to struggle with school. One thing that I learned from the countless amount of times I have been stuck in a hole of confusion is remembering that everything is temporary and after I finish an assignment the feeling of accomplishing it will be worth it and I will not have to worry about it in the future. 

One video that has helped keep me grounded is by one of my favorite artists Kim Nam-Joon where he states, “We all want to die, but not today! Not today!”