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High School Reality Check

What Students and Teachers Really Feel About High School

Photo by Media from Wix

Do you enjoy going to school everyday?

In a recent upper school student survey, only 18% of students responded “yes,” while 32.4% answered “no” and 49.5% “maybe.” To a multi-answer question asking students’ feelings towards high school, 68.5% of users selected “tired,” and 52.3% included “stressed.” The following most popular responses were “overwhelmed” (38.7%), “satisfied” (36%) and “happy” (36%).

“Just based on my memory, I think young people today maybe don’t have the same level of control of themselves physically and particularly verbally than they did when I was in school,” upper school math teacher John Gussaroff said. “But I also grew up in a different place, and I think it’s a societal issue.”

Stress is an unavoidable element of high school to a majority of students. Some of its prominent factors include relationships and peer pressure. In the digital age where students constantly interact with their peers even outside of school, the stress from these issues have grown more dominant. Encountering this transformation in an adult perspective, 92% of the faculty agreed that high school has changed since they graduated, and the majority cited social media as a reason behind it.

“Social media has absolutely changed everything,” an anonymous faculty member said. “I went to high school when only Facebook existed and you needed a ‘.edu’ to have an account. Now, the pressure to be a certain persona online and to fit in follows you everywhere. It feels harder to be a high schooler now than it was then because you're forced to grow up sooner and yet not learn to critically think or question.”

However, the teen struggles extend beyond social demands. Academic pressure is especially common among students who take several Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Under the notion that taking as many AP classes as possible helps one maximize their GPA, many students enroll in rigorous curriculum. Unfortunately, maintaining grades while participating in extracurricular activities and preparing for standardized tests make it increasingly harder for students to enjoy their personal life both in and out of school. In fact, 55% of Maclay’s student respondents chose heavy workload and college application as the biggest stressor in high school. This trend has surprisingly escalated in this age, as only 16% of the faculty selected the corresponding answer in the same question.

“I struggle most with doing homework,” sophomore Hudson Miller said. “I feel like colleges are harder to get into now and parents care more about it than before.”

Despite the seemingly widespread complaints among students, some of Maclay’s legacy students voice different perspectives. Sharing appreciation for school with family not only helps them recognize the little opportunities the school offers but also makes them proud to be a part of the generational Marauder community. Senior Olivia Bishop, whose mother Niki Bishop (‘84) is President of the Alumni Board, values her small yet close school community where she has built lifelong relationships.

“I hear a lot of complaints about high school but I kind of appreciate it being a legacy student because I know more about the history and my mom’s experience here and how much she loved going here,” Bishop said. “Maclay’s classes are a lot harder than I expected, but also as a legacy student my mom has made it known to me that since the school is small I can go to teachers and always get help.”

Additionally, once students graduate and time goes on, their opinions on high school are also likely to change, as 52% of the faculty agreed with this statement. As individuals get exposed to the bigger world, they realize the mistakes they made and that there were aspects of high school they could have acknowledged more.

“Naturally as you get older and mature you look back on the decisions that you made when you were younger with a critical eye,” an anonymous faculty member said. “I think there's a lot of junk and distractions in high school life and I didn't focus enough on what really and truly mattered.”

After all, high school is a time to build lifelong memories and prepare oneself for the real world. According to the survey at Maclay, 46.8% of students chose extracurriculars as their favorite part of high school, while 30.6% chose the school community and 9.9% their classes. These elements can not only promote optimistic views towards high school but also implant a sense of pride to be a Marauder. By focusing on what makes high school life enjoyable, students would be able to achieve fun, education and life lessons from the four years of their life.

“My favorite parts of high school are definitely my sports teams like my soccer team and my cross country team,” Bishop said. “Just getting involved and showing up to things that the school has like dances and joining sports teams, I think if you actually take advantage of those opportunities and have an open mind, it will make your experience a lot more fun.”


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Andy Poll

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