High school. What was originally viewed only as a place to build bonds and learn can now send chills down one’s back when referred to. High school can undoubtedly be a challenging time for students from college preparations to social anxieties. It is obvious that these factors cause stress, but is the stress so much that it negatively affects students? New research for New York University shows that a growing number of high school students are developing chronic stress, which could be stunting academic success and causing serious mental health problems.
The study examined stress levels in high school students, contributing factors to stress, and the various coping mechanisms students use. There were 128 high school juniors at two private schools in the Northeast were studied. Juniors were specifically selected because it is the peak for college preparation as students start thinking about what schools and majors to apply for. To get a deeper insight into the stress faced, various members from each school’s staff were interviewed.
The research found that 48 percent of students reported having at least three hours of homework every night and 49 percent reported “a great deal of stress” on a daily basis. Females, who had higher average GPAs than boys, also reported having more stress and were 40 percent more likely to have more than three hours of homework per night. It was found that much of the pressure to perform well academically came from parents. A teacher at the school believed that because school tuition is expensive, parents expect not only a high school diploma, but an acceptance letter into an elite college.
In an effort to satisfy parents, schools have also increased class difficulty and extracurricular requirements to make students stand out to college admissions officers. Many students reported heavy mental exhaustion and believed they were working as hard or harder than adults.
This immense stress can cause students to harm their bodies as they try to cope with it. Kids can decide to use various drugs such as alcohol and marijuana. This can result in addiction and a rise in various other health problems. Students can also be diagnosed with depression or anxiety as they crush under the stress every day. Stress can be good for the body and motivate it to work hard, but there is a limit to it and many high schoolers have already crossed it at such a young age. If schools don’t take action on this issue, the number of mental health complications will likely increase within the next few years.