High school students today are pushed more than ever to be well-rounded individuals. They are told from the beginning that colleges want to see diversity in extracurricular activities such as clubs, organizations, service in the community, and sports. But, oh, don’t forget —you better have straight A’s on your transcript too if you want to be even considered for a top university.
One might ask how the average teenager can accomplish all of this. The answer is simple — either the student doesn’t sleep, or the work doesn’t get done, expectations for students are so high that most crack under pressure and stress.
Sports are in extremely important aspect of an adolescent’s life. They promote a healthy lifestyle, and help teens to relax. In fact, any form of exercise plays an important part in keeping teens happy and healthy. “Exercise should be done regularly,” says Mrs. Gina Szasnat, a nurse at Academy of the Holy Names, “With all of the homework students are given, I think about 30 minutes to an hour is fine.”
Sports sound great and look great on college applications, but just how much time does this take away from school? The average high school student is assigned 3.5 hours of homework a weeknight. Assuming the teen leaves school at 3 p.m. and wakes up at 6 a.m. goes to a sport or obtains another form of exercise each day, and set aside time to eat, socialize with family, and take care of personal hygiene, there is little time for rest, let alone achieve the recommended nine hours of sleep each night. “Some girls are doing homework up to midnight, but sleeping is important for everyone; you need that too,” says Ms. Danielle LeBuis, math lab teacher at Academy of the Holy Names. She agrees that sleep is an important piece in everyone’s lives — and it’s easy to see that everyone, not just teenagers, deal with sleep deprivation.
High schoolers at Academy of the Holy Names work hard to get their assignments done, but this often comes as a great challenge when combined with extracurricular activities.
“I try to run in order to keep my fitness up after school for the upcoming lacrosse season,” says Schuyler Mendel, an Academy of the Holy Names student. “However, some nights I don’t have time for this due to homework and tests for the next day. Sometimes this interferes with my sleeping schedule. Most nights I get no more than six or seven hours of sleep. I feel cranky and I can’t always focus in my morning classes the next day.”
“Rehearsals are from 3-9 every day until the performance coming up this weekend,” explains Marygrace Polsinelli, a freshman at Academy of the Holy Names, “Sometimes I can fit in homework when I first arrive, but this is not nearly enough time to finish all my work. I’ve been extremely stressed out lately due to this. I try to get in bed by 10:15, giving me roughly eight hours of sleep each night. The next day it’s usually pretty hard to focus in early classes such as geometry.”
From these two students, it’s easy to see the stressful lives of average high school students. In a poll of eight freshmen, only one gets nine or more hours of sleep a night (as often recommended). Teenagers struggle to get their homework done, get their physical activity in, service hours completed, socialize, and have a regular sleep schedule.