Is America Too Harsh On Students?

It’s not an overstatement to say America’s education is looked at as a joke by the rest of the world. After all, only about 37.5 of the US population have graduated from college in 2020, according to Statista Research. But in actuality, there’s more to the school system here than meets the eye. The apparent failure of students can be attributed to pressure, excessive workload, unsafe environments, and more. 


 America’s grading system is a lot harsher than other countries. For example, the lowest passing grade in the US is typically 70%, while in Canada it’s 55%. The increased pressure to get a passing grade, added to external factors like competition amongst peers, the increasing difficulties in getting into college, and expectations from parents make American schools notorious for cheating. As stated by Denise Clark Pope, a lecturer in the School of Education, “The students ‘know [cheating] is wrong’ but they feel like the most important thing is to get the grades.” Not to mention that very few students can remember information from a unit after the test. The education system focuses more on memorizing, reciting, and test-taking than actual learning. 


In fact, an article from Study Finds reports how the average American adult forgets about 40% of what they’re taught in school, and uses only 37% of those matters in their lives. If students can recognize that their efforts are mostly meaningless in the near future, why even try to be honest at all? 


Comparing America to its neighbor Canada once more, we can see that the US also pushes students harder when it comes to homework. The typical teen spends almost 7 hours per week on homework in the US, while the average Canadian teenager falls short in contrast. In a Quebec article by Global News, the Canadian 15-year-old takes about 5.5 hours on homework in the same timespan. On top of that, excessive homework has been connected to worsened mental health, lack of sleep, burnout, and general physical health issues. 


Additionally, American schools also suffer from problems such as overcrowding, underfunding and understaffing, and social injustices like shootings. All of this combined pushes unnecessary stress on students- enough to explain the noticeable shortfall of learning in the US.


The education system here is stretching teenagers past their limits. The rest of the top leading countries may not look past the surface and see the alternate reasons for why America’s education ranking is at 27th place out of the entire world- as covered by a study in The Lancet- but for students, they live them. American schools are too harsh on their students.