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Are High School Students Under Too Much Pressure?

11th+grade+students+%28l-r%29+Anna+Ives-Michener%2C+Nikita+Patel%2C+and+Ulysses+Slagle+work+hard+to+complete+reading+comprehension+practice+quizzes+for+AP+Language+and+Composition.+
11th grade students (l-r) Anna Ives-Michener, Nikita Patel, and Ulysses Slagle work hard to complete reading comprehension practice quizzes for AP Language and Composition.

11th grade students (l-r) Anna Ives-Michener, Nikita Patel, and Ulysses Slagle work hard to complete reading comprehension practice quizzes for AP Language and Composition.

Photo Credit: Katie Redefer

Photo Credit: Katie Redefer

11th grade students (l-r) Anna Ives-Michener, Nikita Patel, and Ulysses Slagle work hard to complete reading comprehension practice quizzes for AP Language and Composition.

Katie Redefer, Editor

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It is a common belief that high schoolers in the 21st century are under more pressure than their parents were to succeed educationally. Students in modern day high schools are expected to take only honors and Advanced Placement (college level) courses, participate in clubs and extracurricular activities, have a 4.0 grade point average, score well on the SAT and other standardized tests, hold down a part time job, and complete numerous hours of community service. All of this is only the bare minimum for a student to be considered for high level colleges and universities. A study done by the American Psychological Association even found that 30% of high schoolers feel depressed because of high stress levels, and they recorded their average stress level as a 5.8 out of 10 compared to the average adult’s ranking of 5.1 out of 10.

The 11th year of high school is considered to be the most important year when colleges evaluate student transcripts. This is because 11th grade is the most recent year students will have completed when applying for college. So every year, students frantically try to finish their mountains of homework in between sports practices and community service hours. Especially with the SAT and AP exams just around the corner, 11th graders at cape are even more stressed than usual this spring.

Sarah Bennett, a  Junior enrolled in all AP and honors classes commented on the intense stress levels. “I absolutely feel overwhelmed. I go home and sleep immediately after school because I’m so tired. I’ll have to wake up at 2am just so I can finish my homework on time,” she said. 11th grade honors and AP student Madison Sarnak agreed, saying “I’m in AP US History so of course there’s lots of work. The homework and the tests have been a lot harder than previous years. We don’t get notecards on exams anymore so we actually have to study now. In some ways I feel more prepared for college but still, I’m not even prepared for the SAT.”

It appears that sometimes teachers worry for their student’s schedules as well. Ms. Natrin, teacher of the Junior AP Language and Composition class stated, “I think they (students) seem overwhelmed, especially if they take many AP classes. Teachers are definitely being harder on them then before. But I can see that mostly, they’re working hard.”

But not every student struggles the same way; everyone handles their work differently. Harrison Gale, a Junior who is currently ranked in the top 10 students in the class of 2018 academically,  agreed that spending time well is a key to succeeding. “It’s all a matter of time management. I feel I’m handling it well. If you can do all your homework and keep up with sports you’ll do well. I manage.”

Some teacher’s also lean more to Harrison’s idea of managing stress. Mr. Faulker, an honors math teacher for 11th graders said, “There is a lot of work that’s expected of AP students, but mostly because it’s considered to be a college level course. And also due in part to time management, not every student has the ability to juggle time the same. But what I’m getting at is some kids handle the stress well, some don’t. It’s pretty split between students. Most kids in AP are pretty good at handling stress but there’s always going to be a few that struggle.”

Overall, every student is capable of handling school work differently. One student may be succeeding in multiple AP classes with ease, while another is struggling in CP classes. What’s important is that students work their best in school so they can achieve their academic potential.

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Are High School Students Under Too Much Pressure?