School is supposed to nurture a child’s educational progress. Students attend school to receive an education to one day work as a member of society; however, in recent years, college applications have been more competitive, as there are more people applying in hopes of getting a higher education. As a result, students in high school have been experiencing pressure and stress to be successful academically in order to be accepted into their dream school. In Miami High, many students from sophomore year to senior year, have been experiencing this form of stress.
The Pressure Behind Performing Well in School
Many students at Miami High care about their grades; however, it leads those students to experience a lot of stress. Junior Rolando Morales said that he typically earns A’s as his final grades, and with that he feels extreme pressure. “I would describe the academic pressure as trying to swim with weights twice the size of you— you have to struggle immensely just to stay afloat. This is due to the extreme expectations that come with being a good student. If you want to succeed, you will need to eat, breathe, and sleep in school,” he said.
Senior Nathalie Saladrigas said that her grades are good as a result of pushing herself a lot. “I feel like I need to have the best grades this year since it’s my last, “she said. “There’s a lot of pressure from colleges. I’m in a sea of extremely qualified students so it feels like if you don’t do the most, you won’t be chosen to go to a good college.”
Junior Samantha Yera said that she typically gets straight A’s, but “I feel tons of pressure academically. If I get to thinking about school during the night, I don’t sleep. I wake up thinking about all the work I have to do in a day. The worst thing about me is that I am a huge procrastinator, but also a perfectionist, and that stresses me even more. My academic pressure comes mostly from myself though. My parents are very lowkey about school; they just want me to be happy and do okay. I am usually the one that stresses myself due to my large ambition.”
“I feel academic pressure to succeed. The feeling is a nagging that won’t let you sleep. Especially when there’s unfinished work. Since I want to pursue a highly competitive career, better grades translate to a school of a higher tier. This will affect my job opportunities further down the line.”
-Junior Marco Perez-Vazquez
Living Your High School Career
Like Samantha, some students at Miami High focus solely on their education. For example, junior Devanie Perez wants to take rigorous classes and get credits to graduate with an Associates.
Senior Vladimir Somarriba said, “I can’t stand the idea of being in a class and not learning. Trying my best and challenging myself every day is the code I live for and it’s typically the most rewarding.”
On the other hand, many students attempt to be more well-rounded. Senior Amanda Sanchez said, “I plan to live my high school years, especially my senior year, with a balance between academics and social activities and events.”
Senior Nicole Morgan said, “I plan on gaining as much experience from school as I can before I graduate in order to prepare myself for college. I also plan on spending as much time with my family as I can because I might be leaving home to attend college.”
Advanced Placement (AP) and Dual Enrollment (DE) classes are considered to be the hardest classes to take during your high school careers; they make the greatest impact on a student’s GPA, and if you pass the course or test, the students can receive college credit. Many students at Miami High normally take multiple AP and DE classes in one year to accumulate college credits, raise their GPA, or for the learning experience. However, this contributes to the stress many students experience.
Junior Angie Diaz said, “This year I’m taking AP calculus AB, DE: ENC, and DE: Humanities. I’m not smart when it comes to math, so I feel that I just can’t fall behind because I need to score at least a 4 for the university I want to go to. I’m required to take Humanities because I’m in the MDC Cohort and if I fail any of the classes they enroll me in, I’ll be immediately dropped from the program and miss my chance of graduating with my associates.”
Rolando Morales said, “I am taking 4 AP courses: AP Lang, AP U.S. history, AP Computer Science A, and AP Calculus. They contribute immensely to the pressure I feel academically; it is a given that these are all extremely rigorous courses as the expectations students have are huge. These courses that make up most of my time when it comes to school are the ones that deteriorate my mental health. Juggling all four of these courses is a monumental task, it is no secret that they contribute the most to the rigors of school.”
Devanie Perez said, “I am taking DE Math, ENC, and more DE classes at Miami-Dade College. Balancing school and my other classes after school have been tough. This year the school messed up my schedule, so now I have an MDC class during my 8th period causing me to be on two computers taking two sets of notes for two different classes at the same time.”
“I’m afraid of falling behind in class because it would cause me to struggle with the material more and maybe not pass the AP exams. I also don’t want my GPA to drop or for my transcript to not be competitive enough for the colleges I’m applying to. I have had panic attacks due to pressure from school, but I am working on handling stress better.”
-Senior Nicole Morgan
Students’ Influence to Pursue a Higher Education
Many students at Miami High intend to pursue a higher education based on their own interests. Senior Ashley Martinez said, “After high school, I will be moving forward with my bachelor’s in elementary education. My reasoning is because some of the teachers I have had were wonderful and have inspired me to become a teacher. I have this huge passion for education and my long-term goal is to become a professor, because I’ll not only be a teacher but also a leader in teaching people who want to become teachers.”
Nicole Morgan plans on studying Music Education in college. “I have always loved music,” she said. “The Miami High Choral Program is the main thing that has helped me both grow as a musician and work on overcoming my anxiety. Before joining choir, I was unable to even order for myself at a restaurant. I can now proudly sing a solo in front of other people. Ms. Cid, the MHS choral director, and Ms. Rodriguez, the Early Childhood Education teacher for the Teaching Magnet, are two teachers who have inspired me to become a teacher.”
However, instead of pursuing a passion or an inspiration, many students at Miami High pursue a higher education due to the pressure from outside factors. Rolando Morales said, “I do intend on pursuing a higher education, for me and for my family. I have a responsibility to succeed, which has been paved upon me by my family. My family influenced me a lot when making this choice, as well as society. It is a huge misconception that people are valued less if they don’t go to college; consequently, some people are forced to go to college if they want to succeed.”
Amanda Sanchez said, “I do intend to pursue a higher education after high school because I want to succeed and to be able to live a good life with financial stability. I recognize that it is important to earn a degree and to be employed in this country because the bills in the future will not get paid themselves, especially when maintaining a family.”
The Pressures of Junior Year
Junior year is considered to be the hardest year in high school. Many juniors at Miami High have felt the academic pressures, even though school has only been in session for two months. Junior Brandon Ayuso said, “My biggest pressure is just to get in my community service hours and get my GPA up. I had fun in my first two years of high school, but I really need to get my grades up again and participate more so I can earn scholarships etc.”
Junior Marco Perez-Vazques said, “To my understanding, junior year is the most challenging because students begin taking more APs. I took three last year, so I’m already used to the environment. I’m taking classes that I’m interested in and will affect my job performance in the future, so I feel more applied than last year.”
Junior Britany Murillo said, “I think everyone expects us to be ready at this point for what is coming. I think at this point we need to start maturing and becoming the adults we need to be. We start preparing to compete against the many talented minds of the world that share the same goals as ourselves. It starts with our GPAs needing to be near perfect and then our SAT and ACT scores needing to be higher than average to give us a better chance. All of that requires more of our mentally abilities to be used to the extreme.”
Senior Season Stress
Senior year is the final year in high school; this is where all the hard work pays off because the first three months of school is where seniors start applying to college. However, college season accumulates a lot of stress on seniors, especially the college application and acceptance process. Nathalie Saladrigas said, “I feel like everything is coming at us so quickly and it’s really overwhelming. We have a lot of things to do. I’m scared of not being able to complete my applications for scholarships or colleges well or adequately enough to be accepted. I’m scared of being rejected from my first-choice schools. The test scores are hard to achieve and more so now since we’re in the middle of a pandemic.”
Vladimir Somarriba said, “Each moment I spend relaxing feels like time I could use to increase my chances to get into a good college. Whether it’s practicing for my SAT or writing college essays, it feels like there’s never an end to it. That still scares me to this day. It’s a lottery but with extra steps. Additionally, I fear that I won’t be able to afford college. By all means, I need scholarships to help me pay for my education as my family lives paycheck by paycheck. They cannot afford to pay for any tuition. The fear of being rejected is what pushes me to try my best”
Senior Danelia Nunez is stressed about the competition because “the whole application process is based on outshining everyone else who applies,” she said. “This is the first time we are all doing this so it’s nerve wracking to think that our future is based on an essay.”
Advice to the Underclassmen
The first year of high school starts a student’s journey through the academic pressures that will take place as their days progress. Therefore, as students who survived their first three years of high school, seniors at Miami High would like to give advice to their underclassmen who may be feeling stressed from school.
Nicole Morgan said, “You don’t have to do everything at once. Sometimes, joining a whole bunch of clubs, being in a load of advanced classes, and being in the school musical all at once is neither the smartest nor the healthiest idea. While you should never slack at school, you should also never overload yourself. Your physical and mental health are always more important than any extracurricular. Overloading yourself will only lead to you not applying yourself to your full potential in any activities you’re involved in. If the stress is getting in the way of your schoolwork or your happiness, maybe it’s time to drop something.”
Ashley Martinez said, “My advice for underclassmen would be to not lose motivation. I understand school will literally beat you up, but the benefits are worth it. I would also advise underclassmen to not let the pressure and stress from school lead them the wrong way: doing drugs, hanging out with bad crowds, joining a gang, etc. Be a leader because all that I have mentioned are for followers, and to lead their own life despite what others do or say because at the end one’s self has the power to change the perspective and outcome of their life. Going the wrong direction by doing harmful and/or illegal things are just temporary solutions to long term problems. Education stays with you forever. Life has much more meaning to it, and with education, it will all be worth it. In simpler terms, hang on, and do not lose focus.”
“My advice to underclassmen who may feel stressed or pressured with school assignments is to organize. It is so important to be aware of all the due dates and assignments that are pending. With eight classes, it is easy for one to forget. I recommend writing down everything in either a planner or calendar, and to also get work done the day it is assigned.”
-Senior Amanda Sanchez
Teachers and counselors at Miami High have advice for students who are dealing with academic pressures and stress. English teacher Dr. DeNight said, “I am a big believer in time management. Learn which of your school deadlines is most important and dedicate most of your time to that. Also, consider how much free time you waste doing things that are not important. Most students could probably get all of their homework done in 2.5 hours per day. If you get home from school by 4, and then took some time to relax or exercise for 2 hours, you could start homework at 6 and be finished by 8:30. You could even take a 1 hour break for dinner and be finished by 9:30.”
Government teacher Ms. Yanes said, “The best thing you can do is do one thing at a time. Tackle whatever is causing you stress head on. For example, if it is too much work being asked to be completed at the same time, start with the one you least like. Once that is completed, all the others will seem simpler.”
CAP counselor Ms. Puentes said, “The key to managing stress and pressure due to deadlines is to get organized. I survive all my CAP deadlines making a list of tasks and tackling them one at a time. I am also old school and keep an agenda. You simply need to find what organizational tool works for you and stick to it. It’s not always going to go perfectly, but it will help.”