By: Amelia Dasari (Correspondent)
For many students, including myself, one of the top priorities in high school is to get good grades The primary drive for this is the pressure to get into the best colleges, rather than an interest in what we learn.
We want to see all A’s when we open Powerschool, and to do this, we spend countless hours studying for tests and completing school work. The same pressure also forces students to fill their schedules with extracurriculars that look good on their transcript but don’t really pique their curiosity.
This subconscious choice of overscheduling and picking things which do not interest us might help in admissions but can have long-lasting effects on a student’s mental health, causing stress and academic anxiety. It also prevents students from reaching their full potential and eventually takes the joy out of learning. Isn’t high school supposed to be fun?
Sophomore Rachel Rakushkin says that sometimes the pressure of her classes makes her dread them, even if she’s interested in the topic. “Even if the material is interesting, I’m constantly under stress trying to figure out what’s on the test and what’s just unimportant information.”
Rakushkin adds that sometimes she even forgets that the class is meant for her own learning. “I sometimes get so preoccupied with my grade and the tests I have that I forget to actually enjoy the material being taught.”
English and TV Media teacher Mr. Strunin says one way to make kids less stressed out about grades is on the teacher. “I know for me, when I had a teacher who was interesting and engaging, the class was fun for me. I wasn’t stressed because I enjoyed what I was learning. I think we should allow kids to explore what classes they want to do. We shouldn’t force them to take classes they don’t like.”
“If a student likes the class they’re taking, then good grades should follow. Interest in the subject allows them to be engaged in class and pay attention. Almost all of the time, a student will be motivated to get a good grade if they like the class,” Strunin added. Students seem to have this backward. Good grades can be a consequence of real learning. Studying just for the sake of grades may work but will eventually cause stress.
Parental pressure and high expectations they have of their kids are other sources of stress for the kids. A lot of times, a student’s choices reflect what their parents want them to do instead of what really interests them. “If I get a bad grade, I’m more scared about how my parents will react that the overall effect on my grade,” said sophomore Thy Uong.
“I’m constantly pressured to get good grades, not just by my parents, but by myself as well. I constantly compare myself to other smart students, which makes me feel more stressed that I can’t compete with my peers,” Uong adds.
School Adjustment Counselor Ms. Joan Glasheen says the stress students have due to grades is very prominent in the buildings of Sharon High. “I can tell that kids are stressed, but many still strive under pressure. In fact, we have some of the best students who push themselves to overcome such obstacles.”
Glasheen adds that the SHS community should address this issue, since it is very serious and relevant in today’s culture. “The best thing that the staff at SHS can do to address this issue, is to support the students. Every student feels stressed, and we need to let them know that we will stand by them, and support them.”
Whether good or bad, grades are here to stay. For the foreseeable future, grades will be used as a measure of how much a student has learned, and they will also form the basis of how colleges or companies decide to judge someone. But instead of focusing on that aspect and getting all stressed out, if we push ourselves to focus on learning and pick courses that make us curious and interest us, good grades might follow without a lot of pain.