Students face stress

We are a generation of students who has been pushed to achieve more. Whether it is our parents, teachers, schools, colleges, or the government, we have been told we need to do better. We need to take harder classes, join more clubs, participate in sports, and be good children. High expectations can be rewarding, certainly, to students who have the willpower to meet them. But for the average student, these expectations can quickly become too much and they cannot handle the stress of trying to be the best. Factors that have increased this stress include standardized tests, homework, and the college admissions process. It is time for everyone to set more realistic expectations for students, instead of running them into the ground.

A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2014 reported a troubling observation: the stress levels of American teens during the school year are higher than those of adults. Stress can cause serious health issues, including anxiety, depression, and suicide. A study from the Stanford School of Medicine also indicated that the number of children between the ages of 7 and 17 being treated for depression has more than doubled between 1995 and 2001.

One source of stress for students today are the rigorous standardized tests they are subjected to from a young age. Some states require standardized testing by children only in kindergarten. Students spend months in the classroom, frantically trying to memorize information so that they can pass these tests. Repercussions of failing include being held back or, in what used to be the case for the Keystone Exams, not being able to graduate. Students preparing for these tests and even for Advanced Placement tests are made well aware that how they perform on the test will affect not just them but their school and teachers. The pressure to do well on tests or face consequences has been ingrained into the minds of students, who become more concerned about doing well on tests than actually learning course material. A Gallup poll showed that 64 percent of those surveyed said that too much emphasis has been placed on testing. If we want our children to be more successful, the government and state must place more emphasis on learning for fun instead of learning just to take another test.

Homework has also been a major reason for why students these days are more stressed out than ever. A senior lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education by the name of Denise Pope conducted a study in which she discovered that too much homework actually has negative health effects on students. Researchers have determined that homework benefits begin to decrease after a student has been given more than two hours of homework. Students cite sleep deprivation and other health issues like headaches, exhaustion, and stomach problems as a result of their homework burdens. Researchers also discovered that students with a large amount of homework were more likely to stop seeing friends and family and less likely to pursue hobbies. And get this- students who sacrificed sleep time to do homework were more likely to have trouble understanding material the next day in class and did worse on tests. Teachers are giving their students more homework and expecting students to do better, when really it is making them do worse in school.

The college admission process is one of the greatest stressors for seniors in high school. They are constantly plagued by the stress of trying to make themselves appeal to colleges by taking on more sports, clubs, extra-curriculars, and challenging classes. Often, even after all this work, students still won’t be accepted to their first-choice college or any other competitive colleges.

At what point will the government and schools finally take responsibility for the health of their students? If students are to be successful in high school, we must decrease the amount of stress put on them. States need to reject standardized testing, teachers need to give less, but more effective homework, and schools need to support students throughout the incredibly challenging college process. Only with these actions can we lessen the burden of stress on students and promote the love of learning in high school.