High School: Preparing students for college or burning them out?

Maria Alessandro

It’s 1 a.m., and once again, I’m still awake studying for my test and two quizzes the next day. On one of my busier days, after going to cross country, studying for a big calculus test, going to a F.I.A.T. meeting and finishing up my social studies notes, it’s already past midnight. Through the countless hours of homework I do every night along with the activities I participate in, I, like most other high school students, barely have time to get a good night’s rest. While high school has taught me how to better manage my time and get more sleep, I know that I still don’t get enough.

A lot of students appreciate the structure of high school, and high school can help prepare students for college through the discipline it maintains, but does the extensive workload do more harm than good? As Marian girls, we have the opportunity to take challenging college-prep classes with teachers who push us towards success, but sometimes the rigor of these opportunities and their demands can come with an extra cost for students.

Teachers work hard to help us reach our potential in each class, so that can help with the workload sometimes. Sometimes they’ll even ask when some of our other tests are that week so that they don’t all fall on the same day.

Teenagers are told to be involved in an endless amount of activities — sports, multiple clubs, volunteering, a job. Marian provides clubs and volunteer opportunities for students with all different interests, which helps get more students involved in activities that they actually enjoy. I am incredibly grateful to be a French Club Officer and to be involved in five other clubs at Marian, and I would not want those opportunities taken away, but sometimes, all these expectations and the constant go-go-go mode are going to burn teens out. When students get to college, they gain more freedom and free time than in high school, meaning that they also might not have the motivation to be as invested in their studies as they were in high school.

I’ve recently learned that some colleges would rather see three activities that you devote all of your time to, but it’s a little late for me. I wish I could’ve known that two or three years ago. I can now only hope that my current load will help me with my future for college and benefit me for time management, but I still often have many questions about my future. I wonder if as soon as I move my tassel from right to left on my graduation cap, will I have enough drive to work as hard as I did in high school, or will I be burnt out and ready to coast?

Marian is a college-prep school that offers us the best classes to take to help prepare us for our future. Since freshman year, we are told to think about our future and college. Colleges look at your entire transcripts, so you can’t go easy freshman year, they say. Like a lot of students, I have taken a few AP and honors classes because I want colleges to see that I am capable of taking hard classes, but I often question whether it’s worth it or not. Most students tend to only have time to cram for tests, so is that knowledge even staying in our heads long enough to be useful after we graduate?

I do like to learn, and I want to take challenging and rigorous classes, but not at the expense of my mental health. I’m afraid that by the end of my senior year, I will have reached my breaking point. I feel like I hardly have a break to do things for me, even on the weekends. On Friday nights, I take a nap and spend time with my family. On Saturdays, I typically work on a project, start my AP European History notes and maybe hang out with friends that night and so on. Just like that, my weekend is gone and the whole cycle starts all over again.

As I have grown and matured over my time in high school, while my stress level is still high, I have managed to remember that every day I need some time for myself. Luckily enough, over these past four years, I’ve learned to talk to my teachers and communicate better to ensure a little less stress. Marian has also taught me how to manage my priorities better. Whether it’s watching an episode of a tv show or just simply going to bed early, I’ve learned how important it is to not focus on school 24/7. It’s still a day-to-day struggle to make sure I don’t just simply give up and count the days until graduation, where I can finally catch up on sleep.

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