Academic Pressure

In today’s society, keeping a grade point average (GPA) higher than a four is something most parents push their kids to do, but many students push themselves for it, too.

With the pressures of being accepted into a good college or university after high school, students are being pressured to maintain a high enough GPA to be accepted. In fact, most students believe they need to have a 3.5 or higher in order to be accepted.

Additionally, most adults pressure students to believe that the only way to secure a good career is by attending college.

For example, my father worked for the same company for 32 years. He was amazing at his job, and towards the end of him working there, he was doing the same job as the President of the company, yet he wasn’t making what that guy was making because he didn’t attend college.

This company would rather higher a young 20 something year old straight out of college and pay him over what they were paying my father because he had received a small piece of paper.

Knowing that, I would push myself harder than usual when it came to school work just to make sure that I would be able to attend a good college and receive a good education to help prepare myself for my future.

Actually, getting a high GPA is more challenging than many think; to begin, most students are taking rigorous college-level classes. In these classes, teachers deliberately challenge you more than in previous years, to which they expect a learning curve to occur.

That’s fine, but while you’re struggling to learn new material, your grades can suffer.

In addition, thanks to college-level classes and college in the classroom, it is possible to have more than a 4.0on a 4.0 scale. How is that possible? Weighted classes, but this creates unrealistic, even ludicrous, expectations of students, which causes additional stress.

Senior Jamilyn Smith said, “Once my GPA drops below a 4.3, I get stressed and push myself to do better.”

Other than college, students feel pressured to succeed in order to be better than their older, successful siblings.

Students, like senior Colleen Nersten can attest to all of this. As the top of her class and both her sisters finishing their high school career at or near the top makes her have to push herself to try and finish at the same level or higher than them.

“At times it feels more like an expectation to surpass the success that they had in high school, by not only family members, but by teachers who had them in class, too. At times, it’s suffocating, but the family competition has pushed me harder than anything else,” Nersten said.

As her friend, I have seen numerous times over the year how the stress from her academics has affected her. She rarely sleeps, and when she does, the sleep schedule she is on is all messed up and backwards. She will typically sleep during the day and stay up at night, and she gets so stressed over the little things that have no reflection on her grades.

On top of all of this added stress in her academic life, she also is an athlete and is trying to keep a healthy balance between her school work and her sport.

If students aren’t pressured to succeed in order to be accepted to college or compete with older siblings, then they are pressured by the athletic program to maintain passing grades. If they don’t, then they aren’t able to participate until their grades are better.

This is true for senior Jordan Day, a star basketball player on our schools team. The only time of the year that he truly cares and stresses over his grades is during the basketball season, because if they fall too low, he won’t be able to play.

“The pressure definitely increases because my grades now have an effect on my ability to play, but it’s still not too bad because my grades just need to be passing,” Day said.

If all of the above wasn’t stressful enough, many students feel immense pressure from their parents. Parents may pressure students for varying reasons, but nonetheless, they cause additional stress.

Personally, I have faced the issue with academic pressure from my parents more than once. They would always push me harder than my siblings because I was more focused on my education and more driven than my siblings were.  

They’d always try to blame my struggling on my boyfriend saying that he was distracting me too much, but they didn’t realize that he was often helping me with my work or he was allowing me to do my work while I was with him.

In another way, he was helping me keep my stress levels lower than they would’ve been had he of not been there to tell me remember that this small ten point assignment that I am struggling with is not going to wreck my entire future.

My future college will not care if I got a 6/10 on my small assignment that is worthless for my future. It’s okay if I get a lower grade on an assignment for an art class that has no effect on my future.

It’s time for students and parents to realize that it is okay to struggle with grades and school work in general. It’s okay to not be totally and completely focused on school work all the time.

Students need to remember that they are still teens and that they need to act like it. They need to go out and have fun with their friends, even if they have a bunch of homework waiting for them at home.

I am not saying that students shouldn’t do their homework at all, they just need breaks from their school work sometimes.  

The pressure that each child has to face everyday is so overbearing that it can cause some kids to reach their breaking point before they are even into the second half of their lives.

Schools and parents need to understand that their students and kids are pushing themselves harder than they may ever know or see.

Kids also need to understand that they do not need to be the best in school in order to go on and get a nice job that’ll allow them to support and fund themselves.

Academic pressure is a problem that needs to be addressed in schools and homes around the country. Help your student or child or friend, don’t push them to be better when they are already doing their best.