Middle School vs. High School: Stress and its Effects

As a new freshman, I have noticed many differences between middle school and high school. The biggest change, for me, has been the workload and stress. In middle school, I might’ve gotten a test every other week and a small amount of homework, but the workload was never too excessive. Now, in high school, we get tests and quizzes several times a week, often with little time for preparation. We get a lot more homework, and the assignments take a lot more time and thought. Instead of simple worksheets and readings, we are given  essays and long-term assignments. These require a lot more thinking and time and also come with a lot more stress. Especially with extracurricular activities such as sports or a clubs, it gets a lot harder to prioritize work and effectively manage time. And it’s not just the work that becomes more intense, but the amount of time you have to commit to other activities. I am on the freshman tennis team, and although it is very enjoyable it adds a lot of stress to my daily routine. I have tennis practices or games every day after school, and they can be 2-3 hours long. This leaves almost no time for relaxation, and if combined with another extracurricular, can keep me up very late. High school can be quite overwhelming to someone used to middle school.

I had known that high school was going to be more challenging than previous years, but I was definitely not prepared for such a major shift. High school was painted as a half-step up, but entering felt more like being thrown onto a whole new, intimidating level. I scheduled a lot of advanced and rigorous courses for myself, and it all came rushing at me faster than I expected. In two of my classes, Algebra II Honors and Programming in Python Honors, I am with a lot sophomores and even some juniors, so there is not the same leniency as there is in some of my other classes. Having a mixed class is beneficial, though, because the students are mostly at the same level. However, as a freshman, I am not as accustomed to how the school works as the upperclassmen are. These mixed classes are probably my two most difficult classes, and in order to keep up I expect it will take a lot of work.

You might not know how to handle all this stress, but it is important to avoid falling into bad habits. Personally, in middle school I was a major procrastinator. Although I got away with holding things off then, I can tell that this will not work anymore. There is too much work to be done, and turning in rushed work probably won’t pass as easily. Staying up late to do work is also a bad habit- a lack of sleep can make it extremely difficult to focus in class, and that can set you behind. Another bad habit is consuming too much caffeine. Many people confess that coffee is the only way they can get up in the morning, but remember that constantly drinking coffee is not good for young adults. It’s technically classified as a drug.

It’s also important to not let stress negatively affect other aspects of your life. With a bigger workload you might be more tense, but it’s important to not take it out on the people around you. With more work you might become more irritable, and therefore more likely to lash out at your friends or family. Just remember that they are usually just trying to help and have your best interests at heart. It’s also important to realize that you will not always be perfect, and beating yourself up over grades or sports will often just create unnecessary tension within yourself.

Overall, high school is a big step as a freshman, but it is important to try to make it as easy for yourself as possible. As time goes on things will smooth out, you’ll get used to the workload, and it won’t be so overwhelming. Although high school is harder than middle school, I am looking forward to a great four years.

Olivia Jerdee Staff Writer

Image: Jessica Chang

The Ridgewood High Times is the high school newspaper for Ridgewood High School, NJ. It is a publication dedicated to excellence in journalism and students writing. Above all the High Times is a forum for student work, opinion, and press that proudly serves the RHS community and student body.
Website: www.rhshightimes.com

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