The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

The Student News Site of Olathe West High School

Owl Post

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Academic Stress: Your Future vs Your Present

Addison Smith
Students often have so much work to do that contributes to stress, and stress is amplified when they put too much weight on grades.

Everything we’re told throughout all our years of school has been about the same thing. Work hard, do the best, it’ll all pay off when you graduate. That is what I kept telling myself as I studied for each exam, did every homework assignment and applied for every college and scholarship.

For the most part it’s been true. Working hard has paid off, and as I’m nearing graduation I recognize that. Knowing that working hard would get me into a good college and make me successful was what got me through high school, it gave me that drive to succeed and be the best possible version of myself. 

What I’m trying to say is that grades don’t matter that much. As someone who craves academic validation, I don’t think I could stop caring even if I wanted to. But what I wish I would’ve realized earlier was that while grades are important, so are experiences and enjoying the time that I’ve heard so many adults say they wish they could go back to.

“I think that it’s really hard for students to separate those things [academic validation and self worth],” senior counselor Madeline Frankel said. “Because when you’re in high school a lot of what comes next is based on your performance in high school and where you get into college and how much money and scholarships you get. I think it’s really important to be really involved in lots of different things because college and scholarship organizations look at those just as heavy as academics so I think reminding students that it’s not all about the grades, that there are things that are a lot bigger and more important than their high school grades even though when you’re in the moment it feels like everything.”

Pressure can be external, coming from peers, parents and teachers, but in some cases students put pressure on themselves to succeed or meet a certain standard that they determine is high enough. Senior Kelly Yee, who is in five AP classes and advanced orchestra this year, knows the stress that comes with putting pressure on yourself.

“A lot of the pressure I put on myself was from myself,” Yee said. “My parents didn’t want me to do a lot of things, they just wanted me to succeed.”

So much weight is put on your GPA, your class rank, grades and ACT scores to where it feels like they make or break your entire future, and it causes some students to overlook other aspects of high school because they are so focused on academics and being the best.

“I think you have to remember that there’s only so many hours in a day, putting all of your time into school work isn’t going to make you a well rounded student and that is really what people are looking for,” Frankel said. “If you have a 4.0 but you have not done anything else, your resume is really short verses if you have a 3.8 but you’ve done all these things, every once in a while a B isn’t bad or even a C once in a while isn’t bad as long as you’re doing something else to supplement your resume.” 

While taking some of the focus off of grades and scores allows you to build a stronger resume, it also helps students lessen their levels of stress and enables them to enjoy aspects of high school that are supposed to be fun. As I look back on everything I’ve done the last four years, all the AP classes, all the stress, the extracurriculars and the validation I put on grades, I see how it has benefited me in the long run, but also prevented me from living in the moment and actually enjoying high school short term. 

“I think that when you’re gone from high school one year, maybe not even that long, you’re not necessarily going to remember how you did on that math test or that grade you got on your english essay or how many points you missed on your science lab, you’re going to remember the different experiences that you had,” Frankel said. “Did you go to prom, did you go to football games, basketball games, did you participate in the choir, all of those things because you’re going to forget your grades and really after that first semester in college the high school grades don’t matter for the longevity of your scholarship anymore.” 

As a senior that graduates in a mere few days, I know that I wish I went to that one football game, wish I didn’t spend so much time stressing about that one test, and had this newfound perspective sooner in my high school career. But that’s part of the problem, students don’t see that until it’s too late because of the weight put on academics and success. 

“I recognize in the moment it’s hard to separate that because what we talk about all the time is ‘make sure you get your homework done, make sure you’re studying for your test, make sure you’re doing all these things’ and maybe sometimes we do need to push the other stuff more.” Frankel said.

Students need to be not only educated on the importance of doing well in school and how that will set them up for success, but also how to enjoy the last few years they have before starting new chapters of their lives and how to not let stress prevent them from that. For any incoming or current high schoolers, don’t let your hopes for a successful future hinder your chances of having an enjoyable present.


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About the Contributor
Addison Smith
Addison Smith, Online Editor
Addison Smith is a senior and Online Editor for the Owl Post. This is her third year on staff, previously serving as a staff member. Addison is involved in Rho Kappa, Link Crew and Quill & Scroll. Outside of school, Addison enjoys hanging out with friends, making art and watching TV shows, her favorites including, “The Rookie” and “Community.” Addison is looking forward to advancing the print paper, furthering her photography and writing stories about the community. What Addison loves most about journalism is the ability to spread information to the public and the fascinating world journalism provides through writing and photography. 

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