How Does School Affect Teenagers’ Stress Levels?


Richa Sharma, Staff Writer

It’s no secret that stress levels among kids skyrocket when they reach high school. Stress can be a result of many factors in teenagers’ lives; however, school seems to be the principal cause. Students often experience extreme pressure to succeed in school from parents, teachers, peers, and even themselves. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, the average length of school days in the United States is around seven hours. After the school day is over, students are required to complete homework assignments and study for assessments. Along with extracurriculars and other commitments, schoolwork can become a lot for teenagers. According to the “Stress in America Survey,” conducted by the American Psychological Association, 83% of teenagers reported that school is “a somewhat or significant source of stress.” Additionally, 27% reported “extreme stress” due to school.

How do stress levels affect high school students at Sandy Spring Friends School? Students from each grade were interviewed and their answers were closely related to the previous data. Almost every student mentioned that school is the largest contributor to stress in their daily lives. Many upperclassmen also mentioned the pressure of getting into college. One sophomore explained how competition with peers is a factor that contributes to their stress levels. Students often compare themselves with their classmates, undermining their own academic successes. During The Atlantic’s interview with psychologist Mary Alvord, she mentions that, “A little stress and in moderation can be helpful to high schoolers in so many ways. It motivates them to study, to do better. It helps push them.” However, the amount of stress weighing down high school students has proven to have a negative impact.

Why does this topic matter? Because each teenager is different, increased stress levels may impact high school students in different ways. Students may experience difficulties surrounding their sleeping patterns, eating habits, and relationships with their friends and families. Mary Alvord proceeds to explain that “elevated levels of stress hormones can degrade the immune system, cause heart problems, exacerbate respiratory and gastrointestinal issues, and bring on chronic anxiety and depression.” Students may be provoked to relieve their stress through endangering activities, such as substance abuse. These intense levels of stress have been normalized among high school students, but the negative effects are not always acknowledged. 

Issues that come along with stress may continue to affect students all throughout their lives- not just when they are in high school.


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