The constant distractions for students cause some to question what they need to prioritize in order to succeed.
Some students feel the need to take multiple Advanced Placement (AP) classes and be involved in many extracurriculars in order to get into college. They forgo sleep for studying, and relaxation time for sports.
Students are told from the beginning of their education that getting the best grades is essential. Some take this to mean that grades are more important than their mental and physical well-being.
Junior Nico Camerino, who takes six AP classes, said “From taking AP classes, I’ve learned to improve my time management skills and my work ethic. Effective time management skills are vital to reducing stress; that’s a given.”
Not only do some students take advanced courses, but many are also involved in multiple extracurriculars.This takes up even more of their limited time.
Sophomore Sierra Segal, who is involved in Treble Clef Choir, Intermediate dance, Swing Club, the Gay-Straight Alliance, ballet lessons, and voice lessons, said, “I try to have a regular schedule of going home, taking a half an hour nap, eating a snack, going to whatever extracurricular I have that day, and then going home and doing homework. The only way to become unstressed about something is to get it over with.”
Some students believe that they need to take AP courses because it is the only way that they will get into a “decent” school.
Other students take AP courses because they think that everyone around them is doing it, so they have to take them as well.
Principal Lisa Gleaton said, “I think that people aren’t realistic. I think some of it is keeping up with what everyone else is doing.”
A study based at San Diego State University showed that five to eight times as many young people were reporting very high levels of mental health problems in 2007 than those in 1938.
Although some students would not be able to handle a full course load of AP classes, some are able to handle it well.
Colleges, such as Stanford University, say on their websites that they are looking for students who have “intellectual vitality and personal content,” not just the test scores.
“I know that if you have a pretty good GPA and a bunch of extracurriculars it’s going to be better than having a really good GPA and doing nothing outside of school. Colleges like to look at what kind of a person you are, not just your scores on things,” said Segal.
While college do look at the individuality of students, taking advanced courses and challenging oneself is also important.
Camerino said, “I believe that taking AP classes and succeeding in them shows colleges that I am able to handle rigorous classes while still in high school.”
Although taking these classes do help, students should also make sure that they are not just taking the courses to get into college.
“I want to be in the performing arts, so it’s going to lead to my career. It’s what I love to do and it makes me happy, and that’s important,” said Segal.
When prioritizing responsibilities and activities, one must look at how it affects both college and mental stability to make an informed choice.