High expectations causes high stress for academically driven students


photo or infographic by Katherine Lee

The second article from the Issue Issue explores the stress and pressure felt by students who are trying to building impressive GPAs and resumes of extracurricular activities.

Editor’s note: The Voice of the Wildkats staff worked on a series of in-depth articles for what we named The Issue Issue. Our staff members wanted to write articles about things teens really wanted to read about. Our goal was to send the magazine to the publisher the week we returned from spring break. Since school is out until May 4th or longer, we wanted to publish these stories. An important role of journalism is to help the public, and it is our hope that these stories will open dialogue and encourage students to get help if they are going through tough times. All articles will have The Issue Issue logo displayed. They will also be under a special menu. It is our hope to let students know they are not alone. There is hope no matter what you are going through.

The clock is ticking. A race to be the top of the class with college of their dreams at the finish line. The pressure is immense. Four short years filled with long nights of studying and unfinished projects and papers. Their entire future is at stake. Tick tock. Tick tock.

High school students are constantly faced with pressure from teachers, parents and peers to go above and beyond in everything they do academically. 

From balancing school work from all seven of their classes to showing up to every practice and meeting of different sports and clubs they are involved in. Not to mention, their friends and family who require the same attention and effort. Students are given four short years to decide what they want to do for the rest of their life, while also remembering to enjoy the ride. Time management and prioritizing are a must-have for these young adults. 

“It’s very stressful,” Sweetheart dancer and sophomore Alyssa Williams said. “I push myself to be the best and it makes me push myself beyond my limits because I’m expected to from everyone around me. I’m not perfect.”

Freshman are just starting to plan their future. Coming out of middle school and thrown into a large mass of students all racing towards the destination. They may feel lost with no sense of direction and have no idea what they need in order to survive. 

“There is definitely a lot more work in high school than in middle school,” freshman Ginella Mire said. “It’s all increased because my friends and I are having to manage sports and school work at the same time as they both require a lot of time.”

Students complain that teachers do not understand the pressure and stress that they are experiencing, partly because the teachers are the ones invoking this stress. Seven classes a day who all demand effort and attention can lead to hours of homework. 

“In all reality, my life is school, and I feel as if adults expect that,” Williams said. “I feel pressure from teachers, especially AP teachers. I feel as if they have never felt the pressure that we have felt. It’s a different type of pressure that has led me to depression, anxiety and pure mental exhaustion.”

However, students should understand that teachers also experience the same stress as they are working hard to help their students pass their classes. For AP and DC students, they are expected to go beyond the normal set in level classes, as it is a college class for students who are academically advanced. 

“It’s very time consuming and overwhelming,” senior Demaris Pelayo, who balances AP and DC classes while being a member and leader of DECA, student council, NHS, NEHS, yearbook, Destination Imagination, pharmacy tech and Academic UIL. “However, I don’t think it’s our teacher’s fault that we are constantly stressed. I know they are just trying to do their job and get us to succeed, but sometimes I feel that they should understand we also have personal problems and actual jobs we have to go to after school. It’s very time consuming and overwhelming.”

As seniors, they are in the final minutes of the marathon of high school. They have managed to balance four years of projects, essays, exams and tests that have shaped who they are as a person. As a freshman, they chose a pathway that would help them work towards a career of their choice, a big choice. Students may feel overcome by anxiety to make such a huge decision at only the age of 15.

What many students don’t know, however, the school offers college and career counseling with a graduation counselor where students can go to receive guidance about college, financial aid, the stress of school choices and anxiety.

“The stress at school really depends on what is going on at home, which is the biggest issue that I see,” graduation advisor Lori Van Dresar said. “People do not talk about mental health care and people are not getting the help that they need for their mental health. The factors outside of school that are coming into school, like social media, gives students a heightened expectation for a false reality.”