All worked-out: seniors voice concerns over workload

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Education is a marathon, and the seniors are at the last hundred meters.

For nearly four years, long hours and late nights have tested the students’ endurance. Now the seniors are expected to leave every bit of energy on the track. Unlike a real marathon however, seniors do not only have one hundred meters left to run. As soon as they cross the finish line of this race, they must start a new, much bigger race.

The transition between high school and college is much like running back-to-back marathons, and their starting and finish lines unfortunately overlap. Striking a balance between finishing the current race while also preparing for the next one is becoming increasingly difficult.

Most seniors are so sore from the current race to think ahead to the next one. They are finding it impossible to focus on the long-term goal of college with an insurmountable workload facing them in day to day life.

“I spent 4 hours last night simply turning in the applications. Stop the madness. I am beyond stressed. We need a break,”

Nate Jolly, senior

Even senior resident genius John Miggins is bogged down by the stress of the senior year workload compounded with college applications, scholarship applications and financial aid applications.

Photo by: Graig Alvarez

To analyze the complaints of seniors, The Eagle conducted a survey asking seniors to describe their workload.

93 seniors reported how many hours of homework they do per night/per weekend, how many hours of sleep they get per night, and how many colleges they have applied to. The goal was to find a correlation between the number of hours spent on homework during the weekend and number of colleges applied to.

There exists a negative correlation between the number of hours of homework seniors do on weekends and the number of colleges they have been able to apply to. This is intuitive, as weekends are often the only time that seniors can fit in applying to colleges on top of their already busy schedules.

The most important statistic found is the shocking number of students who have not applied to their first-choice college, and the reasons that they cite for not doing so. Out of the 78 respondents who filled out this part of the survey, an astounding 74.4% said that they have not applied to all of the colleges they plan to, and cite the reason as being they have too much busywork from school.

It is the beginning of November. The fact that 3 out of 4 seniors have not completed college applications is worrying to say the least. Many colleges strongly advise that applications be in right now.

When seniors are sleep-deprived and overworked, they can focus neither on school nor their future.

The amount of sleep that seniors are getting is very worrying. The National Sleep Foundation reports that a teenager needs 8-10 hours of sleep every night in order to be healthy. It is no surprise that many seniors are not sleeping for 10 hours every night – but the real numbers are worse than expected.

73% of seniors sleep for 6 hours or less per night, with more than one in four seniors reporting that they only sleep for five hours. As expected, there was an obvious negative correlation between number of hours of homework done per night and hours of sleep per night.

73% of Seniors Do Not Get Enough Sleep

“I have not had enough time to finish my applications due to all the school work. I cannot maintain my grades and work on my applications at the same time because I do not have enough time,”

Maxwell Vela, senior

“…we constantly have to much homework. If I do college applications, I sacrifice time to study in class that I need,”

Nabor Mireles, senior

Other high schools take a different approach to college applications.

St. Agnes Academy, for example, makes them a number one priority. St. Agnes devotes an entire class to helping seniors through the application process, and requires that seniors make nationwide deadlines as part of their grade.

On the night of the college fair held at Strake Jesuit, all of St. Agnes was pardoned from homework for the night. As a result, many St. Agnes and Strake students were able to attend the fair and plan for their future.

When asked if they were able to attend the same college fair, 74% of St. Thomas seniors responded “no.”

Furthermore, St. Agnes has what they call “Mental Health Days.” This aptly named policy allots students a day to take off from school, the only reason being to relax or catch up on schoolwork. On campus, seniors hardly have enough excused college visit days.

Any runner will tell you that you cannot prepare for a big race by doing intense speed workouts everyday. It takes stretching and rest in order to be fully prepared. However, seniors are being expected to finish this race exhausted, to fall over the finish line in a pool of sweat and tears without taking the time to prepare for the next race.

 “I missed the Strake [college fair] because of an English paper,”

Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, senior

“I’m either too busy with important classes or work to go,”

Neal Deitz, senior

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Ryan is the Student Body President of St. Thomas High School. Outside of Student Council, he is a state-champion speaker on the Speech and Debate team, an anchor for the Eagle Broadcast Network, and a well-below-average basketball player.

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