Acacdemic Stress Essay Research Paper Picture a

Acacdemic Stress Essay, Research Paper

Picture a typical, hard-working student. Each day she recieves multipleassignments to complete for homework. She is involved in severalextracurricular activities so she doesn t have much extra time. After sportspractice, she struggles home, ladden with books, to begin studying. On atypical evening she has to work diligently for a couple of hours to completeher homework for school the next day. She has a rigorous schedule thatincludes honors and advanced placement classes so some nights she isforced to stay up very late to keep up with her classes. Other nights she hasan extra packet of work to complete for her SAT Prep course. All this workputs a lot of pressure on her. This may not seem like anything out of theordinary and for many students it s not. The push to be overachievers andget into the top colleges has caused many high school students to take on heavier workloads and more challenging classes. This push to achieve,however, doesn t end once students reach college. In fact, once they reachthe top schools they worked so hard to get into, many students are forced towork even harder than they did in high school and instead of the push to getinto the top college, it becomes the push to get into the top graduate school.Graduate students at the country s top schools, in turn, find that they mustcontinue to overextend themselves in order to secure the top jobs in theirparticular field. As you can see, there is something wrong. America seducational system is seriously flawed because it puts too much emphasison measuring achievement and not enough on true learning. The problem starts as early as middle school and perhaps even before. Students are weighed down with lengthy homework assignments, whichmay involve hours of thewir time each night. In fact, U.S. students nowhave more homework than ever before and it starts atan ealrier age.Specialists, teachers, and parents alike tend to agree that homework is a veryimportant tool. They say that the amount of homewrok students do asmiddle and high schoolers leads directly to their success rate in the future.Many studies have been done to prove the positive effects of homework.Some show that students who do more work score better on standardizedtests. Homework these days has come to be a measurement, a way in whichparents and techers can judge how good an education their students aregetting. The standard rule is the more homewrok the better the value ofeducation. After all, parents and teachers alike want to see their students dowell and that means scoring highly on standardized tests and getting into thebest colleges. This is the way our society measures the success of itsstudents and everyone wants to be successful so the push lately has been toencourage students to take on more challenging classes and this providesthem with more homework. In a recent TIME magazine article, During the past four decades, the suicide rate for teenagers and youngadults has more than tripled. Suicide has become the second leading causeof death among college students. It is hard to investigate the actual causes ofcollege suicides because while the statistics are rising and a few shockingstories have caught our attention, the number of deaths at any given schoolis very small and thus in-depth inquiries are very seldom done, but there areseveral factors which can increase the risk of suicide substantially. Foreignstudents are more prone to suicide than natives because many they becomeisolated. They often can t find any familiar cultural or family ties in theirnew environment and thus concentrate solely on their work. Those withsuicidal tendencies may be more difficult to recognize in a college settingbecause instead of being impulsive and out of control, college students whoare suicidal tend to be withdrawn, quiet, and to draw little attention to

themselves. Those students who move beyond depression to suicide, mayfantasize of a better world waiting for them. They are often very resistant toseeking help because they see it as a weakness(Lipschitz). The academic stress faced by college students these days is perhapshigher than ever before. They are faced with a new situation when theyreach college and must then struggle to keep up with their new environment.Many college students begin to feel worthless. They measure themselvesonly by academic or athletic success. This can distort their perception ofreality and cause them to blow things out of proportion. The change inattitude may not even be noticeable to close firends because students whobegin to feel overwhelmed and hopeless tend to hide their feelings byimmersing themselves in work. As stated early they will usually not seek thehelp of for example, a guidance counselor, because they do not want toseem weak. This feeling of hopelessness can become a big problem insituations where students are expected to perform at a very high calibar for along period of time. Jason Altom, considered an extremely gifted graduatestudent at Harvard University, killed himself last August. He drank a liquidlaced with cyanide, that he obtained from the chemistry lab, in which he wasdoing his doctorate work. He was possibly the brightest student in thechemistry program, he had been accepted into the most exclusive lab group,and his doctorate project was harder than anything the other students hadchoosen, so it was a shock to learn of his death. The news of his death, andthe content of the three suicide notes he left, one to his parents, on to theChair of Harvard s chemistry department, and one to his student advisor,spread quickly. His advisor just happened to be world famous, Nobellaureate, Elias J. Corey. Corey was notorious for being one of the most strictprofessors in the department and he certainly had high expectations. Thenote Altom had left for his parents was eventually shared with a Harvardnewspaper. It shocked his friends and fellow classmates by saying that hisdeath could have been avoided. Altom s note stated that his student advisor,Corey, had had too much control over his future. He wanted Harvard to setup a new system which would distribute the power to other key people andhe wqanted a committee set up to monitor the quality of life for graduatestudents. At Harvard, the student advisor watches over the student as thestudent does his doctorate work. In the end, it is almost solely the advisorwho decides whether or not a student gets a diploma. Another power studentadvisors have is recommendation. Without a letter of recommendation fromfrom someone many students find it harder to get jobs once they havegraduated. Since their student advisor is the only person who regularlymonitors their work, the student advisor is usually the only one qualified towrite a letter of recommendation. In this system it is easy to see how astudent could feel over whelmed by the power his student advisor had overhim and dismayed if he percieved some ill will between the two. Altom hadbeen having trouble in the final stages of his doctoral work. He had choosenan especially challenging project for himself. He had to sythesize todifferent molecules and then bond them together. He had completed insythesizing both molecules, but could not successfully bond them together.Aparently, Altom felt that Corey was unhappy with his progress. He hadshared his concerns with some firends, but no one knew the magnitude ofhis anxiety. Obviously, none of them ever thought he would go to theextent he did and many wonder if this incident should be a warning to us.Harvard and other top schools, where the pressure is intense, have begun toimplement changes to counteract several recent deaths, similar to JasonAltom s. The stress he felt, as one of the brightest students, at arguably thebest school in the country, should give some insight into what otherstudents, who perhaps have a harder time keeping up, might


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