High schools hurt teenagers

“Moleskine Project: illness & recovery #13” by PHOTO/arts Magazine is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Open book next to “fear” and “depression”. Zooming in, the words “AMERICA IN PERIL” are clear.

Kacy Mull, Ranger Review Reporter

With modern technology, teenagers are able to communicate more than ever. This communication has caused us to come to one conclusion: school sucks. It’s not just the, ‘I don’t like to do homework’ or ‘I don’t like waking up early.’ It’s the effect that the school has on our mental health. In our generation, poor mental health is one of the most common things. It unites us with jokes about our depression or anxiety or lack of self-confidence. However, we use that as a coping mechanism. We truly are suffering and school isn’t doing much to help. 

From crippling expectations to poor sleep schedules, school impacts teen lives in so many ways. It’s the main thing that determines our mental state. 

I was talking to Mr. Swanson and he told me when he was in high school, he was easy-going,relaxed, and didn’t try too hard but now he would not be able to get into college with his high school GPA. He said he couldn’t imagine having to live up to the expectations that modern day teenagers have. 

Times have changed. People can no longer get through life with a highschool diploma and never receive a higher level of education. College is now essentially required to become a productive member of society. This also means that colleges have raised their expectations. In order to meet all of these requirements, we stockpile AP and Honors classes,clubs and athletics until we are drowning in work. The stress of it all cripples us but anxiety often is the only motivator to even try to get all of this work done. 

I struggle with both anxiety and severe depression, I’m one of the few who are medicated at this school. Personally, my anxiety usually overrides my depression and makes me do my work, but I don’t put my full effort into it. I can’t because I am constantly drained. I don’t even have a big workload, I can’t imagine how people who take four AP classes and have after school sports feel while also being a part of some club that meets at 7 AM. 

On the topic of workload, what is with the constant excuse faculty love to use, “you would have more work than now if this was a normal year”? They’re missing the main point of that sentence. It’s not a normal year and there are very slim chances of things ever going back to normal after, if ever, the pandemic ends.

I had a friend call me sobbing about how she is struggling with school work on top of her hobby, which she is going to have a career in. That’s her priority because she has a future there, not in Statistics or Forensic Science. 

In her words, as she wishes to remain anonymous, she feels as though, “the administration would rather I kill myself and have A’s and then have to send out an unsympathetic, insensitive message to everyone about how I was an honors student.” 

“Moleskine Project: illness & recovery #14” by PHOTO/arts Magazine is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Patient psych ward schedule next to books that say “depression” and “anxiety” in reference to the struggling teenagers of the American public school system.

This highlights the big problem with the American school system as a whole, it puts too much pressure on students to be good at every single subject when, realistically, some students are more history and english inclined than math and science inclined. That’s why there’s an offer of alternatives to Precalculus and Chemistry are for, but the added work of science and math classes are unnecessary for someone who has figured out what they are good at, what they want to do, and have already taken the basic classes required for typical life skills. 

I for one, can read history textbooks for hours on end because that is what I find fun and interesting, but sit me in a Chemistry class and I will be on the brink of tears trying to figure out what Sig Figs are and how to use them. 

What if we worked on honing students skills in high school (or at least after sophomore year) rather than trying to cram the expectation for mastery of all skills down their throats? The French are right, we should already be working on what we want to do in the future during high school. 

Overhead I can already see the storm of, “it’s the state, it’s the government, we can’t do anything about it.” Well that’s the faculty, and even some students, wanting everything to remain the same because they don’t want to deal with the mess it would create. 

It is a large culture change that we need to enact before teenage suicide rates go up because the world is progressing and if we remain in the mindset of “my parents did it therefore I can do it” or the vice versa “I did it therefore you can do it” we will all fall behind in an abyss of depression and agony for our collective failure to adapt.