In response to difficulty, people are overrun by angst. Butterflies hasten from within, a sweat breaks out and speaking normally grows to become a difficult task. Unfortunately, stress has always been prominent, especially among teenagers.
According to the American Psychological Association, an estimated 44 percent of Americans have reported an increase in their stress levels over the past five years. 31 percent of the teenagers surveyed reported feeling overwhelmed, and 83 percent of these respondents said their stress was a result of schoolwork.
San Marin students have revealed that stress has a large influence on them as well. In an informal survey of over 50 freshman and sophomore students, it was reported that about one-fifth experienced thoughts of self-harm, which had developed from stress.
Some students also feel as if their teachers do not understand the pressure they are under; only one student reported teachers do understand.
English teacher Karen Arcangelo said she has tried to be there for students as best as she can.
“Many times students don’t talk to their teachers, and then their teachers have no idea that a student is feeling stressed or overwhelmed,” Arcangelo said. “This is really the first year that I’ve had more than a few students coming to me for help.”
From her perspective, Arcangelo sees this stress stemming from thoughts that success is only achieved by getting straight A’s, and thinks it is time for a shift in thinking among students in order to lower stress levels.
Counselor Laura Triantafyllos has also found student stress to be a result of pressure, mainly to get into college.
“I think stress and anxiety levels amongst students has never been greater, but I attribute it mostly to the competitive nature of college admissions,” Triantafyllos said. “I’ve never seen numbers like what we’re seeing now, with regard to average GPAs and test scores getting into our UC, Cal State University and private school systems.”
In fact, she sees the homework load as having somewhat decreased with the use of project-based learning. The idea is to investigate more complex topics by having the students research and present their findings, rather than sitting at home filling out a handout.
Teenage stress has also affected the individual and social lives of students. Nearly all of the interviewed students find themselves having to choose between their personal life and schoolwork.
Sophomore Mikayla Morgan said she has felt the pressure of school as well, though she does not specifically blame teachers.
“I’m sure some teachers understand that we get homework from other classes, but I’m still always flooded in homework,” Morgan said.
She finds herself choosing what she feels is more important out of her assignments, which is not the message the school is necessarily trying to send. Nearly all teachers want their students to take their class seriously and for them to put equal effort into all of their classes.
Although junior Quinn Cantarutti does not get stressed from school too much, she said she still feels like some teachers take advantage of her time by giving her pointless assignments.
“I get very frustrated when I get handed a packet about an inch thick and it is obvious that the teacher only looked for completion and not quality of work. This not only makes it very easy for people to cheat on the assignment but it also makes me feel like I wasted my time,” Cantarutti said.
Cantarutti takes three AP classes, yet she only feels stressed by one.
“The workload is borderline ridiculous in my eyes because almost all of it is just busy work that has no impact on helping me learn the subject,” Cantarutti said.
Stress affects people in different ways and at various levels. There are students in the same position; however, for them it could end up bringing about more stress and frustration.