Students struggle to balance school and activities

Stress is a prevalent issue for teenagers. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five teens suffer from at least one mental health disorder [diagnosed]. Students struggle with the ability to balance everything, from academics and athletics to their own social life. Many find it difficult to complete their assignments on a daily basis, even without the addition of extracurricular responsibilities.

Senior Keeley Wright is one of those students.

“I would say some teachers don’t really understand that you take 6 other classes besides the one they teach so it’s extremely hard to get all of your work done when every single teacher assigns you homework,” Wright said. “Plus homework on top of extracurriculars and sports is just super unmanageable.”

Chemistry and physics teacher Timothy Blok says that he tries to give around 30 minutes of homework a night. However, he acknowledges that this might mean up to an hour for some students.

Samantha Whitlock

If every class assigns 30 minutes of homework every night, assuming a student has seven classes, that time adds up to an average of three hours. With only 24 hours in a day, students spend seven hours in school, practices or extracurriculars for multiple hours and a few hours of homework a night. All of this not considering time for social aspects, family time and/or a job after school.

“I definitely think it [the excessive workload] has [affected me], especially with waking up early and going to bed past midnight every night,” senior Emma Bach said. “It just gets super stressful.”

Blok provided a metaphor expressing the struggles of joining a difficult class.

“I relate it to riding a bicycle. You hop on and are very shaky at first and then you get better and better at it,” Blok said. “But you have made a commitment to this class so it is going to be difficult and a lot more work.”

Most upperclassmen are challenged with college applications, demanding classes and competitive sports teams. With everything going on, many students are struggling to prioritize everything. 

“Senior year is a lot harder because I have to deal with my homework I get from teachers plus my online spanish class, varsity sports and college applications on top of that,” senior Selina Ruano said.

Through these struggles, students have found strategies to help manage their stress. 

“For me, just planning my time ahead is really helpful so I’m not overwhelmed on what I should start now,” Bach said. “Making a schedule with what to do and when and what do I need to prioritize.” 

The school psychologist Shanti Rachlis is available for drop in meetings at her office in the library if students need any help mentally. There are also three onsite therapists, five days a week, if anyone wants to speak to a therapist confidentially. 

Counselor Jim Hu gave input as to how students should be approaching their schoolwork. 

“I think that at the end of the day, the best advice is that we want kids to love what they’re doing,” Hu said. “If at the end of the day you feel burnt out and tired then that is going to be a challenge throughout the year and maybe not the best fit.”

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