High school is not an easy time. Not only do you have to do well in all your classes, you're also expected to play a sport or an instrument, participate in multiple clubs, maintain your social life and get a good night's sleep.
If you're like me and you have a dream school that's really competitive, you've either taken or are going to take Advanced Placement courses in high school. Advanced Placement courses help you build your subject knowledge in a specific field, boost your GPA and look great on your college application. However, these courses are also known for their level of rigor and the incessant demands they make to students who want to take them.
As someone completely new to the American high school system, I did not quite understand the level of hard work and commitment an AP course required. I decided to take 4 APs my junior year (Chemistry, Biology, Language Composition and World History), and many of my friends were doing the same. What I didn't realize was what these four subjects would mean for my mental health in the coming months.
In simple words, the workload was too much. I spent the entirety of my weekday afternoon slogging to complete homework, studying for tests and working on projects. Many assignments were due at midnight, meaning I didn't even have the liberty to take a nap after I came home from school. I pulled many all nighters, and staying up till 1 or 2 AM was an everyday occurrence. My parents tried to help me, but there was nothing they could really do; the work was mine. On weekdays, I barely got a breather, and on weekends, I spent most of the day either stressing out about homework or working on something that was due soon.
I didn't have the leisure to put a lot of effort and time into each project I was given, and I rather had to do the job as quickly as possible so I could move on to the next task. Many days, I felt like a well-oiled machine, doing homework assignment after assignment until I collapsed at night in exhaustion.
Nearly every afternoon, I went through extreme stress, worrying about how late I'd have to stay up at night just to get my work done. Sometimes, I'd cry out of anxiety because even after putting in hours of work, I still would not receive a good grade on an assignment. The AP Courses were slowly taking the joy out of my life and leaving me no time to socialize with friends or family, take up a hobby at school or even participate in activities in my neighborhood.
Every time I'd watch Netflix, I'd feel a pang of guilt because I wasn't being productive, and slowly, this anxiety started to consume me. Any time I spent having fun I would regret because I knew it would lead to me staying up at night doing homework. I couldn't let myself do anything enjoyable, and this was turning my life into something really damp.
It turns out, I wasn't alone. Alarmingly high levels of stress are associated with AP classes, something that can permanently affect students for the rest of their lives. The added sleep deprivation can even contribute to depression and more stress, which furthers the problem.
Taking an AP class is fun if you're really interested in the subject and have at least an hour a day you can spare for the workload. However, I do think that taking a lot of AP courses can be especially detrimental to one's mental health status, which can lead to burning out early and severe health problems in the long run.