An Outlook on the Average High School Student's Life

Among many other serious problems in an average high school student's life such as social life, depression, and stress, the pressure to succeed academically ranks among the top in terms of contributing to the burdens of high school students. However, not only AP class students face this tension; the stress is now widespread in all high schools of America, AP level or not. From numerous authoritative sources and literature, it is proven that all students in America cope with the pressure of academic achievement in high schools, making it a decisive constituent of why students make immoral decisions and execute reckless actions.

For instance, examples of what ensues from academic duress are presented in the award winning novel, Speak.

In the award winning book Speak, by author Laurie Halse Anderson demonstrates the vicissitudes of life through the eyes of a cynical and quiet high school student. The central idea that the book revolves around is that life is that one needs to speak up if they want to come alive, or else, they will be a tree that is in need of much pruning.

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One of the major problems that Melinda faces is that she has no friends because she called the police at the party the other summer and ruined it. She is infamous around the grade and is still being harassed and blamed for the incident. Because she did not speak out and say that she called the authorities because she was raped, she is being harassed and bullied about it.

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Similarly, she is also being influenced bypeer pressure when Heather keeps using her for various tasks that the Marthas command Heather to do. Because Melinda chooses to remain quiet instead of simply saying "no", she is manipulated into doing things for Heather such as decorate a teacher's room to bolster Heather's standing with the Marthas.

On top of this, she deals with academic pressures. Her grades the entire year have been abysmal and her parents are interrogating her about this. Melinda chooses not to speak out and say "I'm not interested" or "I need help from a tutor" and what ensues is only her burden. All of these problems could be vanquished in an instant if Melinda just chose to speak out but instead, she takes the wrong path of silence and bears all of her unnecessary troubles. Correspondingly, a serious problem that students face in the 21st century is the overwhelming pressure of academics. In order to alleviate this burden, many students cheat to free themselves of spending copious hours studying. Statistically, research dictates that 73 percent of test takers cheat at some point in their academic career(Stanford University).

A recent incident at the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in New York City shows further delineates the correlation between academic pressures and immoral actions such as cheating. In June 2012, 71 juniors were caught cheating on a New York State Regents exam through text messages. “Everyone took it as an evil necessary to get home,” (The New York Times) says Karina Moy, a 2010 graduate of the high school. Another graduate of Stuyvesant said, “They're really proud of your achievements in college and sometimes the only way you could've gotten there is to kind of botch your ethics for a couple of things” (The New York Times). Both interviews show that students have success in high school as priority over ethics which leads to the argument that harrowing a student's path to success will lead to a higher possibility of cheating.

In another incident at Leland High School, nine high school seniors were caught cheating on a final exam. It started with one student breaking in to a classroom and stealing answer keys and then he spread the classified information. Karen Fuqua, the spokeswoman for the San Jose school district, says, "This just exemplifies the problem that kids would go to this length to get that grade to get accepted” (Mercury News). With these cheating scandals and others unaccounted for, it can be said that there is a lucid correlation between academic tension and immoral actions. Interviews have shown that heavy workload was a majority of why test takers cheat (Stanford University). Most disturbing of all, there is ample empirical research to say that emphasis on grades have a direct relationship with cheating (Stanford University).

Furthermore, a more detrimental problem in high school students in relation to a heavy academic workload is physical and mental sickness. In research done by Stanford University, 67% of students surveyed have said that they are always stressed by school and when asked the question of what the top stress for them was, the top answer was school (Stanford University). An example of the academic-health issues relation is that Vicki Abeles' 12 year old daughter had three to five hours of homework every day and soon began having panic attacks. To further explain her daughter's ailment from academics, Vicki said, "She'd developed a physical condition that doctors felt were related to anxiety and stress" (Dallas News). Because of her daughter being victimized by academics, Vicki Abeles makes a documentary, Race to Nowhere, on how trivial and pointless academics are. The stress of grades is so prodigious that it comes to the point where Vicki Abele believes that sleep is pivotal to avoiding burnouts as she says, “For parents who see warning signs of school related stress in their kids, Abeles' first piece of advice is to "protect sleep at all costs" (Dallas News).

Many people have the SUPERFICIAL belief that gifted or advanced students excelin all fields of academics like a breeze. However, that is not the case as stated with research, "Indeed, research shows that affluent, high-achieving students are more likely to suffer from depression - and less likely to value learning for its own sake” (University of Arkansas). The condition where a student or any other worker becomes uninterested in their job and simply slows down is called a “burnout”. Burnouts are common in students that try to achieve too much and push themselves far beyond the point of their maximum., a site devoted to such issues states that, “Children may work so hard to keep up (and stay ahead) that they begin to burn out from stress—which can be a dangerous state, both physically and mentally" ( In essence, it is proven that academic pressures can lead to health related issues as well.

Again, academics have been the bane of a student's existence in many cases. Some students may handle this stress through cheating while others may simply succumb to the odds. Through numerous surveys and research, it is clear that a major 21st century high school problem that all high school students share is academic tensions. Whether it is a pessimistic high school girl just trying to get by or it is a high school senior bound for Harvard ready to take his final exams, academics is a common antagonist among students.

Works Cited

  1. Atlas, Darlas. "Mom made documentary in reaction to daughter's stress at school ."Movies Guide Live. (2010): n. page. Web. 9 May. 2013. < documentary-in-reaction-to-daughter_s-stress-at-school.ece>. This article gives a little background information on why Race to Nowhere was created.
  2. Chuang, Stephanie. "Cheating Scandal Rocks Leland High School."NBC [New York] 28 March 2012, Weekday Edition n. pag. Web. 9 May. 2013. < 144730185.html> This source is a summarization of an incident retold by NBC.
  3. Jaffe, David, and Drew Nelson."Academic Cheating Fact Sheet." Perspectives in Assistive Technology. (2013): page. Web. May. 2013. <>. This source is highly credible because it is research done by a Stanford education research group. They have done empirical studies on students cheating and then compiled the information into one large fact book.
  4. Medoff, Lisa. "Pressure, Stress, and the Gifted Student " Web. 2 May 2013. < page=2>. The author of this article is Lisa Medoff and she is a well-known figure in the education management field. She has earned her degree at Stanford University and she currently operates Lisa Medoff Psycho-Educational Services at the San Francisco Bay Area. With degrees and work experience that correlate with this field, this is an excellent source.
  5. Noguchi, Sharon. "Nine students caught in Leland High School cheating scandal." Mercury News [Silicon Valley] 30 3 2012, n. pag. Web. 17 May. 2013. < school-cheating-scandal>. This source is a summarization of an incident retold by Mercury News.
  6. Rubin, C.M, and Denise Pope. "The Global Search for Education: On Success." Education News. (2011): n. page. Web. 9 May. 2013. < and-politics/the-global-search-for-education-on-success/>. This is an interview conducted by Rubin, a journalist, and Denise Pope, a PhD in teacher education from Stanford. She also has her Bachelor's in English from Stanford and a Master's in Education from Harvard.
  7. Stambuck, Heidi. "Speaker, Movie Describe Excessive Pressure on Students." University of Arkansas, n.d. Web. 2 May 2013. <>, The author of this article is Heidi Stambuck who has received her Bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas. She currently works at the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas in the field of higher education. This makes her information accurate and reliable. However, this article is about how Alfie Kohn (Yes, that guy) is coming to the university to have a discussion about the subject. Alfie Kohn has the opinion that high school pressures are far too high and that we must strive to lower them. He has earned his Bachelor's degree at Brown University and a Master's in social sciences at University of Chicago. He has taught high school as well as college level and works as an independent scholar. Due to his field of education and his work credentials, he is a very authoritative source.
  8. Yee, Vivien. "Stuyvesant Students Describe the How and the Why of Cheating." New York Times [New York City] 25 September 2012, Weekday Edition n. pag. Web. 9 May. 2013. < rationale-for-cheating.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>. This source is a summarization of an incident retold by New York Times.
Updated: Dec 09, 2021
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An Outlook on the Average High School Student's Life. (2021, Dec 09). Retrieved from

An Outlook on the Average High School Student's Life essay
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