The Price of Education

The Price of Education

Jasmine Washington

So much of a teenager’s life revolves around school. From preschool or kindergarten to high school or college, teenagers spend what feels like forever in school.

But why would this be an issue? School is what people need to get that job in the medical field or to learn about what they’d want to do with their lives. School would be amazing if it weren’t so flawed. Just in the few days that we’ve been back in school, I’ve heard so many of my classmates stress about other assignments. It’s almost like either some care too much or just too little.

Whether it intends it or not, school puts a great amount of pressure on students. And the older a person gets, the more difficult learning can become. This just leads to more stress. When students go to school for around 8 hours a day, it’s likely that they’ll have 2-3 hours of homework minimum. Even more, time is taken out when students perform in extracurriculars like athletics or the arts. Practice for athletes can last 2 hours or more, and learning to properly play a song can take maybe 45 minutes to an hour. Take this away from sleeping, which is likely 5-6 hours of sleep. And then eating, which takes about 45 minutes per meal. Suddenly, there isn’t much time in the day left. 

Though teenagers are supposed to get a good 8 hours of sleep, many of my friends have complained about needing to do homework either all night or up until 11:30. If students are sleep deprived, they can’t be expected to do fantastic in school. The mind and body is way more focused on going back to bed than completing schoolwork. I’ve known people (including myself) who have had to wake up earlier on a weekday to complete finishing the homework they had. It’s almost a funny standard – students attend school for the same amount as a regular paying job, but they’re not paid. And this is fine in many cases. In exchange for an allowance, students are given an education. But when it comes to adults doing overtime in their jobs, they’re paid for this and appreciated. When you’re a student, overtime is always expected. And no, you probably won’t get much praise for completing your homework. 

So what is the issue here? A lot of adults that I know have explained that school in their time wasn’t hard or as stressful as teenagers make it seem. Some of them just overlook things and compare them to their life experiences. Yes, there’s no doubt that a teenager is being extra about their situation – the chemical set-up of our bodies is going insane – but not always. It feels like many people, especially parents, disregard the complaints and constant stress students have about school. If someone you know seems overly stressed about school, there’s a great reason for it.

Besides the number of hours individuals spend at school and the time doing homework, it’s much harder for people of this generation to keep up with everything they’re meant to. If this is the generation that has had so many technological advancements, it isn’t a shocker that teenagers are involved with the Internet and its many branches. Whether this is social media, reading/writing online, or any other form of entertainment, students likely spend hours scrolling through their phone to stall. Not to even mention the pandemic sweeping across the world, numerous political arguments, and many students being quarantined and away from their teachers. It’s possible that all this behavior isn’t just an act of laziness.

After students in the Fort Smith school district were sent home back in March of 2020, there was only one more month of virtual school before everyone was given months off. People were basically allowed to do whatever they wished in their homes, and teenagers were given more free time than they’ll likely ever get in the four years of high school. When school started again in 2020, it’s no surprise that people were stressed about how much work was instantly given to them. Mental health begins to be affected again – even more than it was back in quarantine – and students are just supposed to deal with this.

Out of all the people I’ve known and spoken to, success or money is an important aspect of their future. Success, for many teenagers in school, means getting straight A’s or high B’s. And while it’s perfectly okay to push yourself, people who are only around 14 shouldn’t be pushing themselves over the edge. Students are constantly informed that school is the only way of being successful and happy in life as if there aren’t hundreds of people who didn’t need school to seek their happiness. For as long as I’ve been a student, tests have been such an important matter. Okay, maybe they weren’t too big of a deal in kindergarten, but tests really seemed like a life-changing event back in 5th grade. As I got older, tests became so much more important. If you didn’t get somewhere around a B or A, you’re not taken as seriously. Of course, a C or D is passing, but no one seems to take people who receive these scores seriously. 

What’s so upsetting about the way schools do testing is the fact that it’s compared to numbers and letters. People are more than what a computer or paper says, and it’s frustrating to see how unmotivated a student can become after getting a bad score on a test. Everyone’s brain works differently, and it’s possible that a lot of people’s mental comprehension is not the exact same thing. Though it’s more complicated for the school system, students shouldn’t have to have panic attacks over a test because they’re worried about failing themselves and their parents. 

So what could the solution be? Teachers and parents need to understand a student’s stress – and become aware that students have more than one class. A student can’t dedicate all of their time to one class because if they do, they’ll be punished for neglecting another class. Students, whether it be fear of failure or fear of getting grounded, need to understand that one bad grade isn’t the end of your career. And lastly, understand that no many how many hours you spend at school or how little time you believe you have left, never give up.


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