Schoolwork vs. Life

Photo Source:

Photo Source:

Helen Burke, Writer

Schoolwork vs. Life

Is your schoolwork overwhelming? Does your schoolwork negatively impact your sleep, social life, and extracurricular activities? Many students, both in and out of Pentucket, can respond yes to one or more of these questions.


Is This a National Crisis?

Stanford University researched the daily lives of over 4,000 high school students in California and noticed that “many students said their homework load led to sleep deprivation and other health problems.”

“Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills….Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy.”

This study shows that many students face difficulties balancing schoolwork with extracurricular activities, time spent with friends and family, and developmental necessities such as sleep. 

Homework “discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points.” This incites the infamous question among many teenagers: why spend hours worrying about homework if you don’t retain the information at a productive rate?

According to American University, over “seven million students in the US––sixteen percent of the student population––missed fifteen or more days of school…800 school districts reported more than thirty percent of their students missed at least three weeks of school.” 

The states of New York, Washington, Alaska, Rhode Island, Oregon, Nevada, and the District of Columbia reported over twenty percent of their students miss over ten percent of the annual school year, while all other states report that at least ten percent of their miss eighteen plus days of school annually.


Absences at Pentucket

At Pentucket High School, 28.5 percent of surveyed students reported that they missed over fifteen days of school, many of whom missed school for over four days at a time. 

Seventeen out of 21 students stated that they had lots of schoolwork to catch up on after being absent, whether they were out for a week or a couple of days.


Absences Affecting Grades

A survey was conducted with 21 Pentucket students about how school absences affect their lives and the consistencies between their stress levels when paired with schoolwork.

What happens if you miss school for an extended period directly before grades close for the quarter? One anonymous Pentucket student was out sick for the final week of the third quarter in the 2022-2023 schoolyear and stated that “Every quarter, I try to make the Honor Roll. This quarter, I simply don’t have that option…I had to complete a week’s worth of school in two days.”

57.1% of students reported that they were extremely burdened with the pressure to make up all of their assignments. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest level of stress, they reported having a stress level of eight or higher. One student claimed that their schoolwork “would keep building up and [they] would never catch up.”

57.1% of students believe they completed their missing assignments with the best ability to remain productive, and wouldn’t have changed anything about how they handled their schoolwork.

Junior Emma Busch stated that she would have decided to “plan ahead, map out what is due and when.”

One student stated that regardless of absences, they “consistently don’t give [herself] enough time to get everything done…It feels like [they] don’t have time for anything anymore…and just can’t quit yet.”

That student said that she “averages about 6.5 hours of sleep on weeknights, primarily due to extracurricular activities. [She] regularly spends an extra hour or two working on homework afterward.” 


How Helpful Are Our Teachers?

Handling schoolwork after absences can be very difficult, but certain teachers have been known to be a big help. Many students stated that Mr. Dziedziak and Mr. Harty were very helpful teachers as students were out of school. Other students said that Mr. Lovett, Mr. Hickey, Mr. Siegfried, Ms. Endyke, Mrs. Ducolon, and Mrs. Barlow were fairly helpful as well.

Unlike these teachers, “some teachers are very bad at making it easier to get work in,” said Jessica Brann, a current senior. Many students feel they have struggled with making up their schoolwork assignments, primarily in the fields of math and science. 


Parallels With Schools Nationwide

A majority of the information gathered from the survey lines up with the study of high school students surveyed by Stanford University. For example, students feel that they aren’t doing homework for the right reasons. Sophomore Molly Burke said that she was “most concerned about reaching all personal goals for [her] grades, and when [she is] out, [she is] just completing the assignment to get the points rather than to grasp the information.”

14.3% of students had to miss club events, 71.4% didn’t have time to spend with their friends and family, and 76.2% of students lost hours of sleep. Out of 21 surveyed students, only one student didn’t miss out on extracurricular activities or have to mess up their regular sleep schedule because of their schoolwork.

This survey provides a small insight into the lives of Pentucket students, and almost every student surveyed claims that their performance in extracurricular activities suffered, they lost sleep at night due to their schoolwork, and they lost time to spend on fundamental development by losing time to sleep and to spend with friends and family.

This is not an issue that only lies at Pentucket High School, but instead, is a national concern. Students from any state, whether it be Massachusetts or California, do feel that their schoolwork is overwhelming, and has negatively affected their mental health.