The problems of prestige

Alexa Saler introduces student perspective on harsh high school workloads, and offers insight on how the education system should be modified.

Student burning in overwhelming load of work | Graphic by Julia Zorc’24/Staff

LMSD is notorious for excellent academics and high performing students. Because of this, there is a constant expectation for high SAT scores, seamless GPAs, and a multitude of extracurriculars just to be deemed “a good student.” My question is: is it all worth it? At LM, even if we have little interest in a subject, there is pressure to take the leap into a challenging advanced course for the purpose of flaunting it on our college résumé. One LM student, Bailey Baker ’25, admitted to feeling, “major pressure to do well in class and live up to the teachers’ high expectations.” Upperclassmen feel this same pressure to an even higher degree. Vivian Collins ’24 explained how, “with college applications coming in the near future, I feel a great pressure to make a lasting impression and finish with a strong résumé.” Throughout LM, students put in arduous work for topics they may not even be passionate about, and are fabricated by the rigorous environment around them. 

However, despite the difficulty, one could claim that the large workload of an advanced class models what
it’s like to take a college course, and additionally provides insight into the expectations held for students at that level. Furthermore, it trains the student to be adaptable and flexible. Regardless of these potential benefits, one should not be motivated to take a class solely to impress a school and not to grow oneself intellectually.

In my final question, I asked students new to high- level classes, “how have your stress levels been since you started taking more advanced courses, and do you feel as though your stress has been impacted by our current learning environment?” Sophie Cohen ’25 responded, “my stress has been high because of all of the courses that I’m taking and the pressure of being a good, high level student in this learning environment. We are still kids enjoying school, and there is so much more stress than necessary.”

So, is it worth it? On one hand, taking these classes and doing all of these extracurriculars can be very fulfilling for some students. It can also be beneficial for those who want to get into highly esteemed colleges or dive deeper into a subject of interest. Additionally, participating in extracurriculars can help you make friends and do good for the community. In recent years especially, colleges and universities have moved towards test optional models and have also begun shifting towards placing more emphasis on students’ GPAs, essays, and extracurriculars. Because of this change, good grades and higher level courses are now more crucial than ever in the college admissions process. In correspondence with this, LM’s environment makes students drown in overwhelming amounts of pressure just to be “perfect students.” 

While arguments can be made on either side of this polarizing debate, student input seems to be clear; there is too much pressure put on students in LM. These overly extreme, ultra-productivity focused values that always echo throughout the halls of LM crush creativity and general interest of individual students. The goal of life should not be to dive into every topic that will make you look good on paper, but rather to pursue our true interests and the well-being of our community. Yet this is the difficult environment we are forced into. We are still kids after all.

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