🗣 Finding Our Student Voice 🗣 The UnifiEd Student Voice Team Blog Surrounding Student Life
As a full IB student involved in what seems like a million extracurriculars, I would say that I’ve felt my (un)fair share of stress during the past few months. My dismissal of each class's proclaimed difficulty...
paired with my acute fear of failure and need to be involved in everything I set my eyes on has brought me to my breaking point. It’s safe to say I’m not alone in this feeling, especially considering the victims of “junior year burnout” and the millions of other overwhelmed students.
Being a “gifted” kid, I’ve continually been enrolled in the most challenging classes available to me. However, these “advanced” classes were mainly offered in moderation, covering only a few topics such as math or language. While they increased over the years, they were still relatively easy with understanding and compromising teachers. Challenging classes like AP Literature and World History were not as terrible as promised, comprising mainly of participation grades, group work, and subjective essays. With the addition of the pandemic, deadlines became suggestions, and learning was set to your own pace. Seeing my peers struggle to turn assignments in on time or even remember them, I believe the leniency offered had made us complacent in our tardiness, thinking, “I can just turn it in a day or two afterward”. Not only that, but we also became complacent in the difficulty of our classes, believing them to be on level or slightly above what we had experienced before. Unfortunately, such expectations fell as they brought us to the reality of IB.
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is an education course students take in their last two years of high school that promotes “higher learning”. Instead of taking just a few advanced classes, students now have seven college-level courses in their schedule. I, like many others, was not prepared for the new challenges awaiting me in these lessons.
In the summation of the diploma program, IB requires students to be assessed both internally and externally at the end of its two years. Meaning that we must use all the content learned in junior and senior year on our final exam in March of 2023. In turn, teachers have to ensure that we are equipped with adequate understanding and materials. Unfortunately for my peers and me, that entails drastically increased expectations and a challenging curriculum. Our teachers have set the “bar” to the level needed to pass the final exam, knowing that we will not be able to reach it at this point. While this means teachers will not raise their expectations over the course, it also means that we will not reach them for an extended period. Although I understand this mindset and appreciate their efforts to challenge us, I don’t wish to see my grades fall as I approach that level. The looming threat of such an event has brought me great stress, especially as the content began to grow increasingly more difficult. The overwhelming desire to maintain my grades was accompanied along with my involvement in numerous extracurriculars, clashing at several points and negatively affecting both areas.
Ever since middle school, I have been a part of a multitude of clubs and activities, which I still find myself involved in. My greatest love-hate relationship would be marching band, a group I couldn’t live without but constantly question my commitment to. I love the product we can create and the specific group of people I'm with, but it’s an incredibly long and time-consuming activity. Weekly practices, football games, and competitions compound, taking away a considerable amount of precious time needed for myself and homework. When we ended our season in the latter days of November, mixed emotions once again met me, glad that I could finally breathe but still wishing for more rehearsals and competitions. I often find myself reacting the same to the conclusion of my extracurriculars, making it difficult even to consider quitting or dialing back my commitment.
As I began the second semester of my junior year, I found myself worried that I would fall into the same hole again; perhaps even deeper than before. Winter break gave me a recovery period I sorely needed, allowing me to distance myself from the business of the position I had placed myself into. It helped remind me that breaks are essential to continue being a semi-functioning human being who actually enjoys life. Sometimes those weekends where we feel we accomplish nothing are more beneficial than what we think are our most productive days, allowing our brains, hearts, and souls to rest and recuperate.Having an “off-day” doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re lazy but rather that you can recognize your individual needs and meet them without forsaking your sanity.
Although I am working on attaining this more productive mindset and sense of balance, I know the journey ahead will continue to be difficult, especially as I strive to continue all my passions to the best of my ability. If you’re like me, someone who fills their plate to the brim, I encourage you to allow yourself to take a few steps back now and then. Remind yourself that you don’t need to “accomplish” something every moment of your life. Balancing your passions and time and taking care of yourself is an accomplishment in itself; don’t forget that.