Student stress: 2017 edition


Haley Seymour, Writer

49% of high school students “feel a great amount of stress on a daily basis”.

This is according to The Atlantic 2015 article.

If half of first period Pre-Calculus is dealing with a “great amount of stress”, at least ten students are coping with it. What does this mean for BFA?

The biggest reasons for stress are difficult courses, technology, and applying for college.

Luke Cioffi (‘88) graduated from BFA and is currently a Geometry and Accelerated Geometry teacher at BFA. Cioffi elaborates on his reasoning for student stress.

“Well I think it could be their home life [or] maybe socially or financially not where they want to be or could be. I also think that social media plays into that, where it’s never ending; it’s 24/7, in terms of social drama that happens at school,” Cioffi said.

Shannon Macdonald (‘19) is a student at BFA who mainly takes accelerated and advanced placement (AP) classes. She explains her response to “[feeling] a great amount of stress on a daily basis”.

“I think this is because a lot of pressure is put on students to do well and the workload is [a lot]. I think in order to get into colleges, many more things are required. School is based a lot more now on tests than it used to be,” Macdonald said.

At BFA in 1988, there was no advanced placement, honors, or accelerated classes. In 2017, many students are expected to take accelerated and advanced placement classes.

“I don’t know if it’s a stigma, but a social expectation [is] that kids are in the accelerated or on the AP track. It’s not for every kid; not every kid is ready to be pushed academically, so therefore it puts a lot of pressure on them to do well and maybe they just can’t go as fast as some kids,” Cioffi said.

Although advanced placement classes can give college credit and increase a student’s rigor, some students move at a slower pace.

According to The Atlantic in 2015, many students take AP classes because of pressure from other people.

“But many students are only stressed about these things because they internalize pressures from parents, teachers, and peers,” The Atlantic said.

Students have also become reliant on technology, from keeping up with trends, friends and new technological advances. This gives students stress because some are unable to “keep up” with technology.

Certain technology, such as cell phones, can cause students stress. According to Huffington Post in 2013, social media users are 14% more likely to describe their life as “somewhat stressed” than non-users.

“We have become very dependent on technology and kids now aren’t able to come up with answers themselves, they automatically think ‘I need to Google it’. The critical thinking has decreased in kids,” Macdonald said.

Cioffi mentioned the knowledge students had to learn when he was in school. In 1988, the internet had not yet been created, so students did not have access to the information found there.

“In some ways, I think it [the internet] has made it easier, but also I think it’s given kids a reason not necessarily to know the information [that they are supposed to know]. Being able to look it up in a few seconds to know it is different. But I think the knowledge that you hang on to isn’t necessarily the same as 30 years ago,” Cioffi said.

The reason for this, according to Cioffi, is the constant use of cellphones and social media.

“Whether it’s a Snapchat or a text or whatever, kids are always dealing with it and trying to deal with it when people they’re dealing with aren’t in the same room,” Cioffi said.

Cioffi reflects on his own high school experience and mentions he had little stress.

“At times, my most stressful time was having my brother in the same class- my twin brother. But I think the stress was related to social expectations and any expectations on myself about getting ready for our quiz or an assessment or something,” Cioffi said.

Macdonald discusses the stress students have for applying for colleges, and how much colleges require in order for a student to be accepted.

“Now students are expected to be involved in school a lot more than they used to be. I think there is a lot more pressure put on kids involving, like, college and things like that. I think school is much more important nowadays than it was back then,” Macdonald said.

The average cost of attending a public college doubled during the 1970s and 1980s, according to CQPress. This influenced more pressure on students because of the desire to receive scholarships and money to pay for their education.

According to The Atlantic in 2014, schools that used to be considered easier entry now have a 20 to 30 percent acceptance rate, and college is more difficult to get into every year.

As the costs for college increase and the acceptance rate decreases, it is more difficult to get into college than ever before, which is one source of student stress.

The New York Times published an article titled “Why are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?” The article mentioned their reasoning for students having stress and anxiety: social media.

Anxious teenagers from all backgrounds are relentlessly comparing themselves with their peers, she said, and the results are almost uniformly distressing,” The New York Times said.

If half of the total enrollment at BFA is coping with “a great deal of stress”, at least 451 students are feeling stressed on a daily basis. How is BFA going to help?