Drowning in Deadlines


Lizy Lopez uses her lunch time to catch up on assignments.

It’s hard to believe that looking at a piece of paper can make you feel like you’re drowning, or suffocating, or any terrible, hopeless feeling, but looking at my never-ending list of deadlines, assignments, and tasks to be completed, that’s exactly how I, and many other high school students, feel. We hear it all the time, that our teachers understand, that they care, and that they will do their best to keep homework light and be considerate of our lives outside of school, but how many teachers stay true to their word? I wouldn’t consider announcing the date of the next test one or two days before or giving no class time to complete a 50-point assignment to be upholding their statement.

Throughout my time at high school, I have come to realize that many teachers don’t realize the toll school takes on their students, which in turn, causes them to add more work to this toll. What teachers may see as a reasonable amount of homework or a reasonable deadline tends to be the opposite in my life.

 Between my job, sports, clubs, family responsibilities, and more, my teachers’ idea of reasonable becomes completely irrational. With all of these responsibilities outside of school plus the added ones from teachers, I feel like I’m being whisked away by rapids. Each time I think I can see the shore that I consider to be a moment of rest, these responsibilities flood in again, pushing me back out to sea. This ends up being a vicious circle that I, and countless numbers of other high school students, travel around each and every day.

Instead of catching up with friends, Kate Voges catches up on homework during lunch. (Avah Pack)

While many adults head home at the end of the day and leave work behind them,  young students, on the other hand, must carry it home with them every day. After seven hours at school, two-and-a-half hours at work, and two hours at practice, I tend to be completely exhausted and I find myself unable to think of anything other than collapsing into bed. But my day doesn’t end when I get home at 8 p.m., I still have homework and studying to look forward to. Five days a week, I sit down at my desk at eight o’clock and mindlessly work my way through my list of homework, writing down answers and working through problems I’m too tired to understand. Once I check off every box, or once I realize that I am falling asleep at my desk, I crawl into my bed, usually sometime around midnight, just to have to crawl right back out just five and a half hours later. 

With school’s early start time of 7:20 a.m., it’s not hard to believe that it has become the leading cause of sleep problems in adolescence in America. Being part of this group, it’s definitely no surprise. With only 24 hours in a day, I have found that it is nearly impossible to fit the recommended eight hours of sleep into my busy schedule. More often than not, I find myself spending the time that should be reserved for rest on school. According to the News In Health website, lack of sleep can cut learning ability by up to 40%. This proves that school’s start time and excessive amounts of homework don’t give students more opportunities to learn and improve, but actually inhibits their education.​

School has caused me to learn too quickly that rest isn’t going to be number one on the list of priorities. In fact, rest doesn’t even make it into the top ten. Time and time again, I find myself disregarding my own well being in favor of my responsibilities, school most of all. Not because I enjoy doing so, but because the only other option is to fail. If I don’t check off every box on my ever growing list of essays to write, math problems to complete, and presentations to create, then it will cost me, my teachers make sure of this. If they really understand, then why is it that I find myself suffocating under their expectations time and time again?