You’ve finally finished after hours of homework and studying. You’ve overexerted your mind for the day. It’s time to rest, but you realize that the grind is far from over. You eye the SAT books atop your desk. You remember that you’ve got AP Exams coming up, and you haven’t started your college applications. Academic responsibilities largely fall outside of the daily schoolwork. A whole world of tests and college preparation consumes a student’s “free time” at all levels of high school, specifically for juniors and seniors. The fact that students will face standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT as well as the looming responsibility of college applications are immutable: they’re just the steps you take as you prepare for the transition from high school to college. All of these extra responsibilities beg the question of whether teachers should consider a student’s schedule before assigning work. Should national standardized test dates and deadlines set by private organizations take precedent over curriculum and schoolwork? It would be quite difficult to thrive in an academic environment where this is the case.
The ideal condition for students undergoing the stressful college process would be to have less school work in order to focus on tests and applications. If a student spends less time writing essays or studying for physics, that student can spend more time writing their college application essays or studying for the ACT. With more time to focus on bigger obligations, students can achieve better results and their stress levels can be lowered, but such an idealistic outcome is quite complicated to achieve. Ridgewood High School must follow guidelines and requirements as directed by Ridgewood Public Schools as well as the state of New Jersey. Parents are paying thousands of tax dollars each year to fund the school system and put their kids through the rigorous academic setting on which RHS prides itself. And teachers cannot simply accommodate every student’s personal life before assigning work. What if half of a class will be taking the SAT on the weekend? Should the teacher lighten up the workload for those students, while maintaining a higher workload for the others? Should the whole class get a break because a number of students have to take a standardized test? What if the class is composed of some juniors but also sophomores and freshmen?
This scenario should not and will not ever happen. Students enrolled in a public American high school are expected to meet school obligations and make separate accommodations to tackle everything else related to college or the incipient stages of adult life. Creating an environment in which the student has the power to alter a class would more or less defeat the purpose of teachers entirely; if the students can dictate when they get school work and how much work they must complete due to their own schedules, why not just declare that there should be no schoolwork?
It’s all about balance for a student, and a teacher cannot help a kid to manage a workload in terms of lessening the number of assignments the teacher assigns. The bonus is placed on the student to develop a plan that works for his or her schedule. The teacher should not have the responsibility to keep track of every student’s external obligations and plan accordingly; no academic progress should be able to take place simply because some students have hiccups in their schedules every week. As much as such a flexible world would greatly alleviate teenage stress, it would wreak havoc on teachers trying to implement their lesson plans and yearly layout in the already-confusing rotating schedule.
And in some ways, students do not mind the daily high school grind in tandem with test and college preparations. It provides students with a sense of academic discipline. If left to their own devices as teachers mold them a personal schedule, students may feel less motivated to tackle college application work as they would lead a perceivably lazier existence. Additionally, the school can sometimes help with extra obligations. If one is struggling on the ACT math section and the school teacher is covering topics that will be on the ACT, test preparation can be achieved in a classroom; the only drawback is that not every class can give a student that dual preparation setting. But work ethic elements, as well as some academic rhetoric in school, greatly mimic the experience of teenage stressors outside of the school environment.
Teachers should not consider student schedules when assigning work; it is just too farcical to assume that each student can have his or her own unique schedule based on differing non-school commitments. And even though more schoolwork equates to more stress, some students may find solace in maintaining their academic skills and discipline as factors to carry over into life outside of RHS. We all wish we could talk to our teachers about our schedules and get less work in response, but with state requirements, taxpayer dollars, teacher salaries, and overall functionality of the school on the line, any student can reasonably assert that he or she must make the best of both the school and college preparation academic worlds without altering the framework of Ridgewood High School.
Graphic: Wednesday Hsu