Is School Pressure Getting Out of Hand?

posted in: MFS Affairs, Opinion | 0

School can be a big pressure in the life of an student. Teens who attend schools of good quality are often pressured to excel in the classroom, on the sports field, and in the social world.  Excessive homework leads to lack of sleep, and increased stress.  Many parents want their kids to get straight As, and in doing so, they may pressure their children to work too hard. There is pressure coming from several different places all focusing in on a student, and that can lead to bad results–from minor social problems to serious psychological conditions.



Peers can put a lot of pressure on a student in terms of standards, popularity, and competition, and this frequently happens over social media nowadays. When a student embarrasses himself, scores poorly on a test, or makes a mistake in a sports game, word can spread around the grade with surprising quickness.  If one peer tweets about another (bullying, calling names, spreading rumors) many people are likely to see the tweet, exacerbating the victim’s pain. All of these factors can preoccupy a student, leading to stress and poor school performance.  The well-covered high school phenomenon of “peer pressure” leads many teens into acting as their peers do in order to be liked.  The National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 74.3% of all high school students in the U.S. have tried alcohol.  According to The Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base, 30% of teens in middle and high school have been offered drugs. Persuasion is easy, especially when everyone else is doing it. Bad influences such as drugs, alcohol, and even misbehavior can be detrimental to a student’s academic, athletic, emotional, and social life.



Parents can put the most pressure on a student. Parents’ desires for their children to succeed can go too far at times, if not handled correctly.  Many students fear their parents’ judgment on a subject they struggle with in school. Frequently heard from students who receive poor marks on assessments is (in exaggeration, of course), “My parents are going to kill me!”  One New York father decided to do his middle school daughter’s homework for a week instead of scolding her for not spending time with family. His incentive for this experiment was that his daughter, Esmee, didn’t have much time for her family.  It took him about 3 hours each night to complete the work, and he told The Today Show, “I came away mixed, thinking there’s too much homework, but also very impressed by the work teachers and schools are trying to do.”  Political science professor Richard L. Hall, Ph.D. told WebMD, “Parents are too often very preoccupied with seeing their children succeed, and [are] intolerant of anything other than excellence. We as schools and we as parents need to remind ourselves that sustained excellence is not natural. It is not how we ourselves operate.”



The stakes to do well in high school have never been higher than they are today. High school students are overwhelmed with excessive homework and feel the need to exceed perfection. Nearly 50% of teenagers tested by the American Psychological Association are stressed and overwhelmed by school.  Some amount of stress can be used to motivate students, but when pressure is too high, it can cause students to break down. Many students experience physical symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, nausea, and frequent colds. Too much stress can cause a student to develop depression, feel overwhelmed, lonely, and moody. Many students have developed problems of smoking, drinking, and abusing drugs at a young age because of the high demands of school. School is starting to become a chore, rather than an experience to learn and indulge in education.

In order to limit students’ stress, teachers should evaluate the work loads they assign their students and make sure that the work they give out is genuinely useful to the students’ understanding of the unit.  Less homework allows students to get the proper amount of sleep that they need to do well in school. Deerfield Academy tested an experiment by decreasing the nightly homework load by an hour. As a result, students reported better moods, scored better grades, won more sports games, and visited the school health center less. Teachers should also stagger the days that they give tests, giving students sufficient time to study for everything. With small changes like these, schools everywhere can work to decrease students’ stress and increase their health and well being.


Getting into college, especially for kids of high socioeconomic status, is probably the biggest stress-causer and motivator for high school juniors and seniors. Work for these two years very much revolves around building a good résumé and a good reputation. A student has to fulfill all the requirements to graduate. Getting into college nowadays is a lot more difficult than it used to be. Schools are looking for diversity and an array of different extracurricular activities. Without a degree from college, students have little hope of getting a good job when they get out of school. So students have to devote all of their high school years to making sure they do well. It isn’t enough to just have good grades anymore, as students need to have on their applications sports, clubs, and other devotions that make them stand out. They key factor to doing well is self-motivation. A student has to want to achieve their own goals and want to get into college for themselves not their parents or anyone else.

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