Students do not have enough time to explore interests

Hana Ongwongsakul

“Get a job,” “Go to school,” “Do your homework,” “Get good grades,” “Finish your community service,” “Get enough sleep,” “Join clubs,” “Spend more time with your friends.” The list of expectations for high school students is a long and lofty one.

Along with these obligations, students are encouraged to explore their interests and try new things. My parents tell me that high school is the perfect time to expand my horizons and try new activities, but I have no time.

I am still not sure what I want to do when I grow up. I don’t even know what I want to study in college, even though I’m a junior. I have ideas about what I want to do, and there are plenty of things that interest me, but I don’t have time to delve deeper into them. I would love to volunteer for an animal rescue center, or be in the school musical, or take a writing class or get an internship somewhere, but they all require a large time commitment—time I don’t have.

There are only 24 hours in the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teenagers get eight to ten hours of sleep each night. I go to school for eight hours, and my teachers give me anywhere from two to five hours of homework each night. I play volleyball year-round; I have part-time jobs; I try to hang out with my friends. I barely have enough time for all this, and there’s definitely not enough

I love volleyball and the people I play with, but it takes up a lot of my time. During the high school season, I have practice or games five days a week. For the club

season, I have practice three times a week and tournaments almost every weekend.

Most days I come home from school and immediately start my homework; I have to leave for practice at 6:30 p.m., which doesn’t allow enough time to finish. I drag myself home from practice at 10:30 p.m., only to sit down at my desk to complete the barrage of homework I have been assigned. I am rarely able to go to bed before 10 p.m.; instead, 11:30 a.m. has become my normal bedtime.

Because I have participated in journalism and STEM at school, there hasn’t been room in my schedule for a UC-required visual arts

class. With my time window narrowing, I decided to take a class this semester at the College of Marin so I wouldn’t have to worry about the requirement anymore. This is something that I have allowed myself to add to my already over owing plate, because it is something I’ve always wanted to do. If this was not a required course, I may not have chosen to explore this path, despite my interest in it, simply because I didn’t have the time.

High school is already a stressful time in students’ lives, and the things we have to do don’t often align with the things we want to do. I put a lot of my time outside of  school into volleyball and other things that may not be pushing me towards success after high school. There are so many voices at this point in my life telling me what I need to do to be successful. I realize these things are important, but I’m not willing to drop the activities I like for ones I won’t. The activities that I have committed to are things I enjoy, and even though they take up a lot of time, I am not going to give them up for something I don’t like, despite what people may tell me.