Stressed Out

Students grapple with growing pressures


Image by Areebah Bharmal

junior Kelley Beeler works on a story in journalism

All stress, all the time.

Welcome to the life of a high school teen. Between school, homework, extracurriculars, and maybe even a job or a sport, most teens feel stress.

According to a study performed by USA Today in 2014, more than half of students report feeling “moderate” stress in the last year, and 27 percent report “extreme” stress. High levels of stress affect students negatively with 40 percent citing that it makes them irritable or angry.

GPA, rank, and grades. Academic pressure can be a huge source of stress for students, and some of these systems that are used to rank students don’t make sense or are just unnecessary. For example, ranking students within a school is unnecessary and doesn’t reflect academic accomplishments of students very well when it comes time to apply for colleges. A student at McNeil could have a better GPA than at another school, but a lower rank, and this could reflect worse on them for no reason.

Students also feel that they are pitted against each other to compete. Instead of wanting to build each other up and help each other out, it’s as if we should want others to fail so that it reflects better on us. This is a problem with the education system we have. Major educational reform would be necessary to fix this concept, but changing systems used to compare students would be a step in the right direction.

The amount of work placed upon a student, in general, is also too much. Students feel sleep deprived because they don’t have time to finish everything, which can increase stress levels. Stress and lack of sleep can also cause students to not be able to focus as well in class the following day, which increases stress even more in an ongoing cycle.

After school work should be designed to help reinforce what was done in class instead of being work done for the sake of work. Students spend seven hours a day at school, if material can’t be taught during this time then something isn’t right. Decreasing the amount of homework would be an obvious solution to these problems. Students should be able to finish homework with time to participate in other after school activities, religious and cultural practices, and spend time with family.

Until some change can be made and stress can be reduced, a good route to take would be stress management education. In the 2014 USA Today study, 46 percent of students said they managed stress by playing video games and 43 percent said they surfed the web. Teaching students better ways to manage stress could help until other changes can be made.