This essay comes from our four-part email series on student stress and time management in the 21st century. Get the whole series delivered to your inbox here.
Essay #1: Understanding the Stress
Stories like this are not uncommon. Or this call on college admissions to address pressure on high school students. If you search for articles about stress put on students by standardized testing, you’ll have a mountain of results to wade through.
There is a national conversation happening about student stress, mental health, and overall time management.
Since building student time management skills are a huge part of the vision we have for the Chalkup platform, this is a conversation we want to be part of.
We devised a four-part email series that explores the pressures of the modern American student. We’ll be sharing pieces that reflect on how much the average student actually has on their plate, communicating workload to parents and administrators, and building stronger time management skills in teens.
We’ll also be sharing the white papers, articles, and thought pieces that have inspired us and have made an impact on the platform we’ve created.
First, we want to understand student stress - where it comes from, who it impacts, and what has been presented to improve student mental health.
There is a justified fear that the modern student is being worn thin.
Last year, a study out of New York University examined two highly-competitive private schools in the Northeast to measure engagement, stress coping mechanisms, mental health, and related substance abuse.
About half (48%) of students reported having more than three hours of homework a night. Further, about half (49%) reported feeling “a great deal of stress” on a regular basis. Another 31% reported being “somewhat stressed.”
A panel of private school experts convened in the fourth stage of the project to interpret data collected from the students. Ultimately, the panel identified a cycle of “escalating demands and expectations” leveled at students in top-tier institutions.
On one end of the spectrum, students coped through exercise, developing strong planning skills, and seeking balance in their activities. On the other end of the spectrum, the panel saw overwhelmed students who suffered from emotional exhaustion and lethargy, with over 30% turning to drugs or alcohol to cope.
And student stress is by no means limited to private institutions.
Nearly 40% of parents say their high school student experiences “a lot of stress from school,” according to a 2013 NPR poll conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. The survey focused on parents of randomly-selected K-12 students in public or public charter schools ending in May/June 2013.
Experts concluded that students who built time management skills were best positioned to reduce their stress.
What Do We Do?
Have you identified the same theme that we have?
In rigorous studies of student stress, mental health, and academic pressure, time management and planning skills are among the most-cited solutions. Students who seek balance and who learn to schedule their time efficiently are more able to cope with academic stress before succumbing to emotional exhaustion and lethargy.
This doesn’t get parents and educators off the hook who are trying to cram six hours of homework into a three-hour space (and still expect students to show up at school well-rested and engaged). The aforementioned “escalating demands and expectations” should be kept in check.
Overall, we want to call for prioritizing time management skills and understanding student workload.
Enforcing these skills and promoting balance in a student’s life is going to be a group effort. It’s going to take coordination between parents and educators, as well as a hearty dose of grit from our students.
Don't forget to catch the full e-mail series: