HONORS & AP: Hurt or help? We will take a look at how more difficult classes effect the students at PRHS

We, as students, are baraded because we are seen as constantly complaining about how there is too much nonsense in the courses available, but in a recent survey conducted at Paso Robles High school, a total of 52.3% of students involved in the survey said that their classes somewhat helped them prepare for life ahead. Although this is a compelling number, 69% of those same students said that their upper level classes were one of the main reasons for their mental health decline (i.e. depression, anxiety, etc). Students involved in upper level classes continuously say that the expectations that come along with their honors and A.P. classes cause them to have increased levels of their normal stress and anxiety about the work involved in those specific classes. A student, choosing to remain anonymous, stated, “I feel this every day because I have different practices everyday and I have a lot of homework. So many things have to be done and sometimes I put off other things but then it catches up. Commitments with sports and music is getting difficult because they expect most of your commitment to them and it's just hard to balance. I sink into a depressed state and I feel like I can't handle things. The stress is high and my overthinking with many things is holding me back. My anxiety is also hard to deal with and I feel like I need a break from things but I'm busy every single day. I need to find a time just to relax and let go of the things hovering over me.” This student, and many others alike them, have felt an speeding up in the decline of their mental health because of the amount of schoolwork that is given to them. Freshman, Zoey mayo, described her experience with her Honors and upper level classes as ……

"The amount of stress it puts on us is too much sometimes. Teachers seem to assign all big assignments at the exact same time with the same due dates, so you're doing everything at once and you have to spend more time on the harder honors stuff."

Noelle Leonard, PhD, of NYUCN (New York University College of Nursing) stated, “Academic, athletic, social, and personal challenges have been regarded as domains of “good stress” for high school aged youth. However, there is growing awareness that many subgroups of youth experience high levels of chronic stress, to the extent that it impedes their abilities to succeed academically, compromises their mental health functioning, and fosters risk behavior. Furthermore, this chronic stress appears to persist into the college years, and it may contribute to academic disengagement and mental health problems among emerging adults.” Leonard, along with a group of associates, conducted a study about teen mental health, specifically stress and anxiety, regarding school. This study was taken from 128 juniors from two different private high schools. As it turns out, females are more inclined to feel more stress regarding school than males (60% vs. 41%). Furthermore, during the survey, “Nearly half (49%) of all students reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis and 31 percent reported feeling somewhat stressed.” This data is almost congruent with the statistics that came out of the PRHS Survey; telling us that 51.7% of students having feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression on a daily basis. We can also see that these pressures are not limited to American students. Piraya Aekpornpisarn, a foreign exchange student, puts it this way,

“I feel bad about my grades and pressure myself. I feel like this when I daydream or live alone. Sometimes I feel that all day especially during the holiday. It's really sad and I don't want to see anyone don't want to talk with anyone. And this time I feel pressure myself so much like I'm fear my grades will be not good and my exchange will be not complete I fear everyone hope with me will disappointed. I try so much to talk English I want to be good at English and American accent. But nobody knows my effort they said I did not try to do anything. And now I want to rest myself everyone see and anyone said I never try to do anything. My way it's so hard but I will try to do it again. I come too far it's can't be walk back. For my success I will try my best.”

Her struggles are just one of many students who feel the pressures that comes with school. We can see that stress and anxiety do not always come from higher levels of students, it comes from students who strive to achieve more. This is increased in honors students because it is harder to achieve A’s and B’s.

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