Students Feeling The Pressure (College Board)

Students Feeling The Pressure (College Board)

Eli Butler, Reporter

“I’m taking 5 AP’s next year.” – “I got a 1400 on my PSAT, and I’m shooting for a 1500 in April.” – “I was up until 1 am doing homework last night.” – “I never have any time after school for anything other than my homework.” Pressure from students and teachers fosters an academic culture at Boise High that no other schools in Boise, or even Idaho, can hold a candle to. Every year hundreds of students arrive here after hearing stories of the academic pressure that the school climate creates. They enroll in 3 or 4 AP classes, assuming that it’s normal just because it’s what they hear from upperclassmen. Then, by the end of their sophomore year or especially their junior year they become exhausted and burnt out with still a year or more ahead of them. In creating such a powerful and suffocating demand for excellence in our student body we directly push them to give up.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with students choosing to push themselves and choose courses that they desire to take and believe will challenge them. However, an issue arises when students feel as though they don’t have a decision. When, not only other students create this environment, but teachers too. The pressure feels inescapable and rapidly becomes incredibly overwhelming. 

This pressure only gets worse as we approach testing season. With SATs past, and AP tests rapidly approaching, studying and passing has been on the forefront of everyone’s mind for the last month or two. Additionally, with the new school board rules being passed dictating that Juniors need to take the ISAT, the last month has been filled to the brim with tests, studying, as well as the standard course load that comes with being enrolled in AP courses.

All in all, the culture created at Boise High around academics and course load brings in bright, motivated, and strong students and has the potential to churn out students either living exclusively through academic validation – potentially causing genuinely dangerous mental health or even physical health issues – or students that tired and burnt out, just searching for a break. Additionally, teachers may see this culture as an excuse to do a poor job, avoiding essentials to the curriculum, while still boasting high pass rates and smart students while disregarding the reason for that. 

Despite the culture at Boise High, as students we don’t need to succumb to it. As overbearing as it can feel, no one is truly forcing us to cram our schedules with extracurricular activities and AP classes. Find a balance that works for you! AP courses can be a great way to challenge those looking for a college level education in highschool, but truly that is all they are; a challenge. As Boise High continues to grow and change we can work to make it more inviting for all students, and in order to do so we can start with getting rid of the AP pressure.