Whats wrong with being average?

Allison Gohmann

Most students can agree that they are faced with stress when it comes to high school. This expectation we have to be the best is drilled in student’s heads at such a young age and whos there to realize the pressure of it. High schoolers can and should be able to speak out about it.

 These days high schools are introducing CIS and AP classes, these classes allow students to get a feel of how challenging college courses could potentially be. By providing these classes, students can receive college credit and save money. But they have to undergo the drawback of this. Students who not only take these college classes, have to take the required classes to graduate high school. This can add a great amount of stress and anxiety to teens.  Teens will fear that if they don’t succeed, they will be confronted by teachers and parents. Some may even study hours on end and still end up failing the test, they could become discouraged and hold that failure over their shoulders.

 Students also face self-recognition when taking higher-level classes. Many times you can hear students talking about getting Bs and Cs on tests. They see what is normally a meets expectations grade as a fail in the grade book. Kids are being taught that only High Bs and As are acceptable and anything below that needs to either be remediated, retaken or if they frequently get those grades, especially in the CIS and AP classes, to consider dropping down to a lower level of that class. They also face the clubs that go on in school. For example, the National Honors Society says that students can join only if they meet the requirements. Some requirements include having a GPA of 3.6 or above, meet a minimum amount of volunteer hours, no negative behavior such as suspensions and expulsion, and any unexcused absences. In some cases, students barely miss the qualifications of this and are overlooked.

  Not only are the kids affected by the classes and clubs, but by their community. In the documentary, “Race to Nowhere”, director Vicki Abeles states that America is facing “a silent epidemic of school stress and academic burnout.” Students are confronted by their district to reach for the high score whether it’s on a quiz, exam, statewide test or even the ACTs and SATs.  This shouldn’t be the case, we should not be forcing this pressure upon students. Yes, a push in the right direction can help, but all these standardized testing shouldn’t be the way we determine how smart one pupil is to the other. By using these test you are only looking at the big picture, which is the overall score, but you need to dig deeper and view the strengths and difficulties. I didn’t use the word weaknesses because I believe that isn’t the right word to use to describe a student. Weakness is defined as a state or condition lacking strength, where difficulties mean needing much effort or skill to accomplish, deal with, or understand. The way I see it, students can overcome difficulties, not weaknesses.

  Based on research by the New York University of Nursing, They observed that between two private schools consisting of 128 juniors, “nearly half (49%) of all students reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis and 31 percent reported feeling somewhat stressed. Females reported significantly higher levels of stress than males (60% vs. 41%). Grades, homework, and preparing for college were the greatest sources of stress for both genders.” This is just one clear example of the stress felt by students. There are many more research studies like this out there and sadly many of them go unnoticed.

 Diminishing these expectations will allow students to have higher self-confidence in and out of the learning aspect. Some ways include putting creativity into consideration, make learning relevant to what’s going on right now, and have small goals that can be accomplished rather than one big goal set for the whole year.

  Kids and teens shouldn’t grow up thinking that a few grades slipping here and there or that not being a part of the 30% class rank is a negative thing. We need to change the perception that “average” is not good enough. By having these high expectations we are taking away the students’ ability to branch out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves. We need to stop believing that high grades and scores will determine the future’s well-being and instead,  encourage students that it’s okay to make mistakes because, in the end, mistakes are what we ultimately learn from.