Pressure In School Is A Contributing Factor To The Downward Spiral Of Students

Pressure In School Is A Contributing Factor To The Downward Spiral Of Students

High school culture is way beyond me.

High school, baby. Do you remember the sweet, sweet smell of cafeteria lunch, kids copying homework in the last .5 seconds before turning it in, all the random people you’ve come across crying in bathroom stalls, and many more (that probably include thrashing around to your 6 a.m. alarm every morning)?

I’ve had friends tell me that high school is where they THRIVED. Supportive teachers, unbreakable friend groups and amazing sporting events and spirit rallies; obviously why wouldn’t you deny you had practically a perfect high school experience? I’ve had graduated friends who admitted that high school was one of the worst points of their life...and they don’t like looking back on it.

Jumping from state to state, I experienced completely different schooling methods and atmospheres. Illinois to Pennsylvania to California, my perspective on academics and schooling changed COMPLETELY when I moved to Cupertino, the heart of the Silicon Valley, my sophomore year. I remember family friends back in Pennsylvania who told me that academics were SO much easier in California, and I would ride swiftly through my three years on a cloud.

Then, I sat on my butt in my first class of the year, World History, and thinking; “Well wow. I’m fucked!!!” Through the years, I watched my classmates descend into true madness, panic attacks after tests, sitting through 8 ½ hours of school with a fever because missing the class would be too awful, and overall, a spike in introverted behaviors, anxiety, and depression...which could have been prevented (which CAN be prevented). I’ve had teachers pile work on me before, but not like this. The curriculum was way harder than anywhere I’ve ever experienced, the expectations put on students were incredibly unrealistic, but mostly it was unhealthy because of the insane pressure put on us from parents, teachers, and fellow students. This pressure to achieve unrealistic levels of academic success was what overrode the joys of education and instead made SO many students anxious and depressed.

There is a very real pressure on kids to achieve high levels of academic success. Especially now. Though high schools go about their different ways across the globe, there is essentially no one correct way to facilitate a classroom, nor one clear way to effectively mold students to become successful and good adults. Looking past schooling data, standardized tests, sports achievements, blah, blah, blah, I focused on the ENVIRONMENT of the school, and comparing the systems all the way from Finland to the United States, my point that strain and academic pressure on students will detriment them was verified.

Especially in junior year among the stress of maintaining a perfect GPA, and senior year among the frenzy of college apps and SAT scores, the large majority of conversations with my friends revolved around our stress, anxiety, and lack of motivation surrounding the work we had to do. And THAT was the problem! We had no motivation, and a lot of our jokes consisted of ‘killing ourselves,' dropping out of school and heading to the nearest strip club to hand in our applications. That it is, when you’re overwhelmed with pressure from parents and teachers, overwhelmed with overlapping due dates and four tests in a week to study for, you resort to cramming, procrastinating, and trying to drag ourselves out of an un-motivated rut. It festers up a hate for school.

The educational system is supposed to weave together curriculum and an enjoyable environment in which we can love and appreciate what we’re being taught, instead of looking past the information thrown at us. It should be where we’re GENUINELY interested as to what we’re learning, instead of solely focusing on due dates and as to how we can slide past it doing the bare minimum.

Schooling varies from place to place. Just seeing the shift between teaching methods and the general environment of schools, it struck my interest to really peer into how it affects students. I can definitely say that the Silicon Valley is on another level. It was an eye-opening experience to be flung into the middle of the biggest STEM centered hubs in the nation (even though sometimes it wasn’t enjoyable, and I was overwhelmed by work and societal pressure within the district). We need to find ways to teach our children to love what they’re being taught, implement excitement, motivation, and inspiration. Most importantly, we need to look into how we can eliminate toxic pressure. That pressure is the leading factor to mental health issues, lack of interest, and hatred for school. This pressure is what contributed to many, many suicides in my school district. If we do something about this pressure, and find a way to teach in a different light, lots of things will change.

Cover Image Credit: Didem Arslanoglu

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Stop Saying You're a Broke College Student

I've had a job since 16, and my money life is thriving.

It's supposed to be funny when someone says "I'm a broke college student" but I think it's stupid. Here's my unpopular opinion.

I've had a job since I was 16. My first day of work was the first weekend after I started my sophomore year of high school. It wasn't too difficult- I was literally only working on Saturdays and Sundays. The shifts were 4-7:30/8 pm on Saturdays and 11-2:30 on Sundays. I wasn't making a huge amount of money, but it paid for my gas money, and that was all I needed. So the first year I had my job, I was spending any extra money I had on food, movie tickets, and clothes.

Then reality hit when I knew I needed to start saving up for college. I started putting money into my savings account, and eventually I had built up enough money to buy a new old car. I know, it wasn't college tuition, but I needed it.

My first year living in the dorms, I figured out a system. I was putting $150 each week in a savings envelope, and each month I knew I had to pay $160 for my car payment. The rest of the money I made I put in envelopes for a new purse, clothes, vacation. I had a system going, and I didn't spend extra money on useless things unless I was rewarding myself. In case you can't do the math, that's at least $600 in my savings account each month, and most people can't figure out how to put away $100.

Now, as a sophomore in college, I watch people trickle into class with to-go food, to-go coffee, smoothies, and candy from gas stations or the shops on campus. Then I hear those same people complain about being "a broke college student." I'm sorry, but you're not a broke college student. You're a college student who pays for things you don't need, with money you have that you shouldn't be spending. You don't need to get Starbucks 3 times a day. You don't have to go to pitcher night at the local bar. You don't need to spend money on those things, but you do. And at the end of the month, you're broke, and begging your parents for money.

So, in my unpopular opinion, you're not a broke college student. You're a dumb one. Make a budget, give yourself some spending money, and stick to it. You'll thank me later.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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11 Tips For a Great Semester

The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens.

1. Have a nice workspace/desk

I recently made this change and I feel 100% better.

2. Dress well

Personally, if I go to class looking like a bum, I feel like a bum. Dress for success!

3. Go to bed at the same time every night

Getting enough rest can really impact the rest of your day. Aim to get 7-9 solid hours of sleep each night this semester to avoid accidentally being grouchy at someone.

4. What am I doing for this upcoming week?

What are my goals this week? What’s going on this week? What do I need to work on for this week? If you go into your week blind, it never really works. I’ve done this before.

5. Don’t lose your class syllabi

This one paper has literally all of the due dates, test dates, readings and homework assignments on it. Make sure you always know where this paper is because you will be looking at it constantly, so don’t lose it.

6. Ask questions

If you’re in class and you have no idea what the professor is talking about ask, or email them! It’s good to ask questions because then your professor knows you care about their class so it’s a win-win situation. You ask questions plus the professor knows you care equals good grade in the class.

7. Take good notes

I can’t tell you how many times over the past semester I would look back at my notes and what I wrote didn’t make sense. Learn what type of learner you are to figure out how to take the best notes for yourself. I either write everything out by hand which takes forever (especially when the professor flies through the lecture) or I print out the notes and just write on those papers so I can actually listen to the lecture.

8. Get some homework done in between classes

In my schedule, I have a lot of time gaps in between classes just waiting around for my next class to start. Take advantage of this 30 minutes or 2-hour gap and work on some homework. You’ll thank yourself later.

9. Don't overload yourself

I’ve made a rule with myself to only do homework Monday to Friday. That’s because if I work super hard during the week on my work then I can have the weekends off as a mental break. There are a couple exceptions to my rule like if I have a 5-page essay due Monday then yes, I’ll work on it during the weekend or if I have tests coming up the next week then I’ll be studying.

10. Don't procrastinate

If you’re avoiding something, just get it done and over with. If you have a really difficult essay to write and then a bunch of easier assignments; start with the hard assignment first to get it done. It’ll take the most time and then you’ll feel relieved when you’re done with it.

11. Don't give up

The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens.

Just keep going.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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