The Stress of School: Then and Now


Kayla Zarate

Rebecca Williams

Kayla Zarate, Staff Writer

School can become frustrating and even hard for some students, whether it’s because of teachers handing out mounds of homework or students setting themselves up for failure by the lack of study techniques. Whatever it may be, shool has been labeled “hard” for generations.

New studies show that school could have been easier when our teachers were students.

English teacher Mrs. Connolly told Granite High World, “I can’t answer if it’s easier or not, but I can tell you there’s a noticeable difference between my teachers back then and myself as a teacher now. Everyone is taught differently and because of that it’s not fair to judge today’s academics.”

“I think teachers had it harder,” said sophomore Damaliha Pryor. “They didn’t have the resources we have today. Some of them didn’t even have the Internet, so they had to go to libraries for their research and manually look things up in books.”

Is she right?

A study of high school student transcripts in 2009 by the National Center for Education found that students are taking an average of 27.2 credits, a 3.6 credit jump from the 1990’s. The same study also found that 13% of students were taking honors classes, while in the 90’s, only 5% of them were. And that’s if we only look at the level of academic difficulty. There are many other factors.

A different survey taken by the American Psychology Association (APA) found that 45% of teens suffer from academic stress. This can affect your health by causing headaches, irritability, and lack of sleep, making it harder to focus in school. These symptoms can become chronic and even cause panic attacks and paralysis. An NPR poll run by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard’s School of Public Health concluded that 40% of parents said that their teens were dealing with stress. You can read more about this here.

I can’t speak for everyone, but when I ask my mom for help on my math homework, she says that she never learned things in school that we do now.”

— Bryienne Cheers

Why does getting your education in today’s world seem so much harder? Is it the standards set by our schools, or the fact that most decent jobs require a degree?

“We’re expected to do so much better than our parents did. They expect more than we can give. It stresses me out and makes it hard to focus. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I ask my mom for help on my math homework, she says that she never learned things in school that we do now. I think that says a lot,” said senior Bryienne Cheers.

What students have to accomplish in order to succeed today is much different than it was before. My own mother graduated high school in 1996, 20 years ago, and went to college with a B average and no extracurricular activities. Now, it seems you have to obtain near perfect grades, play on at least one team, such as football or band, and participate in multiple clubs to even get acknowledged as a good school.

A study by UCLA last year found that senior students are forced to spend more time studying than hanging out with their friends. 18% of the students spent 16 hours or less with their friends, while in 1987, the percentage was at 37.9%. Did getting into a good school not matter 30 years ago? How much work did they actually have to put in to their grades? In the same study, it was also found that today’s students party and drink less. A lot less. In 1987, 34.5% of high school students spent 6 or more hours per week partying and drinking, while only 8.6% of our present day students do those things. Although our parents are happy that we aren’t behaving like they might have been, there are plenty of parents who are worried about their children’s mental health.

Granite City High School senior Madelynn Stewart said, “My sister is in honors classes and drive us all crazy when she needs to study. My parents frequently tell her they can’t help her study because they never learned some of the things we now cover in school.”

School seems so much harder now, but is it really? Everyone learns at different rates, and the academic system is forever changing. That’s why parents might not be the best resource for help on your math homework. Standards were different then than they are today. Technology is a great source for information, one most teachers might not have had. But now that we have it, we’re still struggling. So what, really, is causing so many problems?