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Two years ago, during his freshman year of high school, Neil
Advant was strongly challenged in terms of academics. He remembers opening his
online grade book to look at his grades and frowning when he saw the numbers.
Math, history, English, science—almost all his grades were ones he wasn’t proud
of. “I don’t know what happened. I don’t think it was from a lack of effort,”
Neil says now. “I think it was just that things got really hard and I’d never
been challenged in a way that I had at that point.”

He remembers anxiety filling his body. “One of the things
that stressed me out the most was friends that were in the same classes as me,
were getting better grades and just feeling the comparison that you know, they
can get good grades and why am I not getting good grades?”

Neil is not in the same place as he was two years ago, as he
has found ways to deal with stress, even with more things to stress about as he
gets older. He participates in many extracurricular activities such as a youth
orchestra and pre-college that advances his music education, which requires him
to be in the city for the majority of his weekends. Additionally, he attends
school clubs such as jazz band and a men’s choir. “It is very stressful at
times, mostly because of the expectations that I set for myself.” He continues
to say, “when I don’t exceed my own expectations, I get really frustrated.”


It is not a foreign fact that students suffer great academic
pressure. According to an article from Taylor and Francis Online, “66% of
students reported feeling stressed about poor grades and 59% reported that they
often worry that taking a test will be difficult.” The article additionally
adds that “55% of students feel very anxious about school testing, even when
they are well prepared” and that “37% of students reported feeling very tense
when studying” Many students struggle with some aspect of school during their
time in education. As the years come, students have been struggling more and
more, pulling all-nighters, having panic attacks and breakdowns as they attempt
to balance their extracurriculars, sports, clubs, social life, health, and more.
To add on to that, kids in school feel pressure from parents, peers, getting
into a good college in the future, and even themselves.


Fortunately, there are many ways students can cope with
academic pressure and stress. Alicia Adamovich, a current freshman, is not shy
of a heavy schedule. Amid two challenging honors classes in school, and doing
competitive gymnastics for fourteen hours a week, she still manages to not
freak out. Her secret is starting her work as soon as she gets home. Though
many students may feel unmotivated to do so, Alicia claims that she forces
herself to do it [homework] so that she can “have time for herself at the end
of the day.”

“It is very stressful at times, mostly because of the
expectations that I set for myself.”


Neil and Alicia use their passions music and gymnastics,
respectively to get their mind off of school. One shouldn’t choose
extracurricular activities with the mentality of “it will look good on a
resume”, but rather because it could bring you tons of joy. “Alicia says that
it makes her a “little less stressed” as she isn’t thinking about school while
she’s at practice. Neil plays pieces that he finds relaxing to take his mind to
a different world, even if he isn’t practicing. He also likes to think of good
memories surrounding music too. He specifically recalls playing in the
orchestra for his eighth-grade musical. “I was surrounded by people that I
love, some of my best friends…and we were just playing music and having such
a great time.”


Something that another student, Mei DeLaperouse does to get
her mind off of pressure from school is talk to her friends as she feels as if
they’re her “therapist.” She feels relieved after hearing the advice they had
to offer on moving forward from challenging academic situations. At the end of
her fall semester, she felt particularly upset about her final grade in
history. However, her friends showed her “that it’s fine and it’s not the end
of the world.”


The Medium article, Academic Stress in Students,
acknowledges how student’s biggest stressors are “tests, grades, homework,
academic and achievement expectations and parental pressure.” It continues to acknowledge
how this pressure from school has large, negative side effects on students and
can prompt anxiety and depression in some students. In the article, Anousha
Thakkar gives 5 points of outstanding advice on how students can deal with
academic stress. The first being to always have something to look forward to.
Next is to incorporate exercise into your routine. Then, create an organized
schedule to manage your schoolwork. Lastly, understand your academic
capabilities to set realistic expectations, and to always surround yourself
with positive people.


Carley Rogers, a high school student, talks from a unique
perspective in her TedTalk about stress at school. She talks about “it is so
easy to find the negatives in school. Things like stress and lack of interest
in my classes are just some of the negatives that overpower the good.” Rogers
then mentions a teenage girl, Adisa from Africa, who is not offered the same
educational opportunities as herself. She discusses how Adisa would find the
positives in school. “She would see school as a way to make new friends and
learn about the world around her.” She continues to look through Adisa’s eyes
saying “She would want to experience all the different classes and subjects.
She wouldn’t be so focused on the grades, because she’ll be so much more
interested in the actual learning.” Rogers concludes her speech by acknowledging
how difficult school can be. However, although you may not enjoy something,
like school, embrace it because there’s someone who’d give anything to be in
your shoes.


School always comes with a handful of negatives and
positives. However, Alicia, Mei, and Neil can all agree that to relieve
academic stress, it is important to step back and take a look at the bigger
picture. Once you do you’ll understand why you’re stressing out in the first
place. No one enjoys studying for long hours, but studying helps you do well on
a test, which aids your grade and contributes to you getting into a good school
in the future. So push through, work hard, but make sure you’re taking care of yourself
and finding ways to make your schedule as stress-free as possible. It will all
be worth it in the long run.