By Marissa Cohen
The hallways at Council Rock North often echo with complaints from students and teachers about everything from homework to letters of recommendation. For years, members of the Council Rock community have felt the pressure of being in a top-ranked school. In fact, in a recent survey of 55 students in Council Rock North, 51% said they feel close to dangerous levels of stress on a daily basis, while none said they feel little to no stress. Although people may debate whether stress is more of an issue now than in the past, everyone seems to have the same question: why am I so stressed?
This is also a question that’s been running through the minds of administrators and counselors as they try to develop new ideas and programs for relieving these enormous amounts of stress laid upon students.
Most of this stress stems from quizzes and tests, with homework and extra-curricular activities coming in a close second place. It is common knowledge that quizzes and tests create much of the stress for students for a variety of reasons. Students often spend hours studying for each exam, which may lead to a lack of sleep. In addition, students often feel nervous and anxious before tests since grades seem to be so influential for many students.
Students also may feel stress because of time commitments due to extracurricular activities. Whereas tests are an unavoidable part of school, extracurriculars are just that: extra. Thus, many people advise students to give up some clubs and hobbies to relieve stress. However, the stress of extracurriculars comes from the ingrained belief that a student must participate in them often and fully in order to be accepted into a good college. As far as students know and the community seems to believe, colleges won’t like to see that they never participated in activities because it was too much for them.
In addition to the above causes, 46% of students surveyed said they feel much pressure from teachers, parents, and friends to be perfect, which causes them immense levels of stress. North has been a very well-known and well respected school for a while because of its reputation, which is based on students’ college acceptances and SAT scores.
However, those who fawn over North’s incredible reputation fail to see the stress students feel from teachers, parents, and friends alike to maintain that amazing reputation. A junior at North who wishes to remain anonymous said that in her two and a half years at this school, her stress seems to have gotten worse as time has passed.
According to her, sophomore year was less stressful “except for the Isearch [paper], decades project, and geometry projects”. However, she also said that junior year has been “really, really stressful.” This student’s opinions relate exactly to the survey, where most people who said they had a dangerous level of stress were juniors.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, junior year may offer the most stress since it is the year in which many students take AP classes for the first time in addition to the SAT exam and college preparations.
In comparison to juniors, freshmen also feel great stress, but in different ways. As mentioned earlier, homework seems to be the primary cause of stress in students and is seen in all grades.
Katie Pearcy, a current North freshman and honors student, feels like most of her stress comes from homework. She said that the transition from work in middle to high school “was a huge change for me.”
Many students go from an hour or an hour and a half of work in middle school to hours of homework and studying every night in high school -- a huge transition and challenge for freshmen.
Homework is also stressful for Pearcy and others because “every teacher treats their own class like top priority so they give more homework” and “teachers in honors classes use the fact that their class is honors to give more homework.”
Many students at North suffer from all of these stressors and more. Other common stressors from the survey were popularity, jobs, college acceptances, and SATs/ACTs. The question remains, though, how long will this internal battle of stress continue in North’s students before it becomes too much?