In schools across the nation, teens are under a frightening amount of pressure. Beginning in late middle school or early high school, students are fed the expectation to be perfect students, get into a prestigious college, and perform better than their peers. These ideals are mostly conveyed by parents and teachers who only wish their students success, but the unreasonable goal to be perfect often results in the opposite and takes a toll on adolescents. Not only have I experienced the negative effects of academic pressure, but most of my classmates are struggling to handle it as well.
High levels of stress are detrimental to one’s physical and mental health. It is nearly impossible for us teens to handle the stresses of our daily lives. We must complete hours of homework and studying, which deprives us of much needed sleep.
A recent episode of Modern Family nailed this topic when Claire Dunphy attended her daughter’s parent-teacher conference. Her teachers insist they are only giving their students an hour of homework a night ... per class. Claire adds up the amount of courses her daughter takes and is horrified to realize her daughter is getting about six hours of homework a night. This is a scary reality for all high school students, since colleges like to see that we are involved in numerous extracurriculars. How are we supposed to take rigorous courses, be involved in after-school activities, and still keep our sanity?
Students have concluded that today’s high-schoolers exhibit the same levels of anxiety as the average mental patient in the 1950s. To test this, I asked some classmates how the pressure of school affects them. One of my friends, a top student and cross-country star, expressed to me how the pressure to succeed has been so intense it has caused an anxiety-linked eating disorder. Another friend, who is intelligent and involved whilst working on the weekends said, “It has definitely deteriorated my ability to cope with things outside my carefully constructed schedule.” A junior who is currently number one in his class said, “I get no sleep, I have anxiety, and I have failed to be taught how to cope with stress. Due to that, when I’m stressed, I can’t deal with it and basically shut down.”
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with neurotic perfectionism. Since third grade, my mother has pressured me to be a perfect student. If I do not reach these high standards, I feel like a failure and a disappointment. Depression, OCD, and anxiety have stemmed from this perfectionism, making high school a rather miserable experience for me.
Students everywhere are suffering over the stress and pressure exerted upon them. Parents and teachers have been anything but understanding, and something needs to be done immediately for the sake of our futures and our health. If our educators and parents were in our shoes even for an hour, they would realize how difficult it really is to be a student today.