“I’m done. I’m over it. I quit.” are just a few of a high school student’s favorite ways of describing school about this time – as in, the end of the school year. I’m saying this as we speak. I’m also saying this as I work on a 200-point presentation for AP United States History (APUSH), add pictures and information to a lab report for Physiology, and finally, for AP English III, I am making a PDF of a book, researching college information, writing a reflection, reading then designing a Catcher in the Rye inspired activity, and writing this blog. That’s just the work I need to turn in. (Side note: the PDF and book activity are extra credit but I’m trying to put my full effort into this class.) The other work I’ll be doing in preparation for the end of the year is studying for a trigonometry final, a physiology practicum and digestive system final, and a French final – in that order.
As you can see by the effort and work I’m putting into my final assignments and tests, I’m obviously not over it nor have I quit. But boy howdy, wouldn’t I love to. I don’t hate school and I totally respect the necessity of cumulative assessments but why are they set up like this? At my school, the average student has five academic classes a year. Meaning five final tests and projects to study for and complete typically in a one-week period (two weeks for the luck ones) since teachers don’t get through their material til a week before finals week. For some people, this academic work is expected to be finished while they participate in athletics, talent competitions, and/or performances. To the adults who are unaware that this is the reality of many students, the last few weeks of school may sound like an impossible hell. It isn’t impossible but it also isn’t easy. Every teacher wants to tell you that finals week shouldn’t be that hard if you paid attention all year and studied. Maybe they are right – the material for that specific class isn’t that hard but how about remembering that material along side four other sets of completely unrelated material – some of which could be difficult for you to grasp. I know for a fact that I messed up on my APUSH DBQ (document based question) essay because I mixed up the document usage criteria with the AP English III synthesis essay criteria – in the former essay you need to reference at least six documents for a passing grade, while the latter requires only three. Guess who didn’t use six document sources on her DBQ? Me.A common response to student stress is reminding us that we signed up for these classes, that this was our choice. However, when choosing our classes, we sign up what we are supposed to take for our academic level. My best friend is one of the smartest people I know and she is taking regular US History instead of AP level to make life easier on herself and, as far as history is concerned, life is easy. But she wants to major in biology so she is taking AP Biology and AP Calculus and, as far as those subjects are concerned, life sucks. This is gonna sound like a slacker thing to say and I promise you I am not a slacker but living up to your full potential sucks. There are students in my best friend’s history class whose full history-related potential is regular US History (which isn’t bad) however, they are struggling in that class. Why is it that what the education system wants out of us is everything? Every teacher, every college admissions person wants everything we have and I’m sorry but I don’t have 600% of myself to give away.