Turn down the pressure

When competition and pressure start to negatively impact students

It’s no secret that Miramonte High School students face immense academic pressure in their daily lives. From the rigorous courses to the heavy workloads and peer competition, students are almost always experiencing some sort of pressure correlating to their academics. 

In a recent poll on Instagram of 102 Miramonte students, a staggering 93 percent, responded that they have experienced academic pressure at Miramonte. While manageable amounts of pressure can be healthy and effective, there comes a point when competition and pressure start to negatively impact students. 

The Miramonte administration should re-examine the academic pressure students face and find ways to reduce it, such as limiting the amount of homework given and advising students against comparing test scores, course schedules, and what colleges they are attending..

“I think Miramonte and its rigorous courses put an insane amount of stress on students. The competition with fellow students along with pressure from parents, siblings, and upperclassmen creates loads of academic pressure,”  junior Grace Clark said. 

Competition and comparisons between students or siblings is a prevalent issue at Miramonte, and is a lead contributor to the stress and pressure students feel. Miramonte staff should make an increased effort to prohibit students from asking each other potentially harmful questions, such as “What did you get on the test?” that can damage students’ confidence and raise anxiety. 

According to an October 2020 article from Guide2Research, 75 percent of American high schoolers describe themselves as “often or always being stressed” by school work and seven in 10 teenagers name anxiety or depression as a major problem among their peers. 

Although academic pressure is not unique to Miramonte students, its intensity is amplified at Miramonte in comparison to other schools. 

“I was a former high school student at Miramonte and now attend a different high school. One of the key differences is the academic pressure and stress. At Miramonte I felt a lot of pressure and was constantly worried about my grades because of the rigorous work I had to do, which consisted of a lot of homework and tests,” Jane Callister, a junior at Alta High School in Utah who attended Miramonte for her freshman and sophomore years, said. 

It is clear that Miramonte students feel heightened stress in correlation to their academic performance compared to students who attend many other schools. Because of this, staff members need to re-evaluate the amount of homework given per week in order to decrease the amount of pressure students feel. However, the blame cannot be entirely put on the staff — students also need to work on time-management skills, as well as only signing up for courses and extracurriculars that they can handle.

I do think there is a lot of academic pressure at Miramonte. I see it coming at the students from all angles including the community, teachers, college counselors, and even each other sometimes.  It seems like there is an unhealthy amount of pressure to both take difficult courses as well as pressure to be successful in those courses” Geology and AP Environmental Science teacher Jyllian Smith said. 

It’s indisputable that Miramonte students face heavy academic challenges and pressures in their day-to-day lives. Whether spending excessive amounts of time on homework each night, or having back-to-back tests each period, the pressure is definitely there, and it’s too much. The school board, staff, and students must find a way to decrease this stress by lessening homework loads, coordinating test schedules with other teachers, and discouraging students from sharing scores or other academic information. 

On the other hand, it can be said that some students excel when put under increased pressure and many argue that Miramonte does a good job of allowing students to choose the difficulty of their courses. 

“At Dorris Eaton I was very academically challenged, which prepared me for a more challenging path at Miramonte. The nice thing about Miramonte is that you can choose how difficult your academic career is,” junior James Frye said. However, for many students, the variety of current stressors is overwhelming, and Miramonte must do its part in eliminating unnecessary anxiety from students’ lives by working with teachers to waive excess anxieties such as unnecessary projects or tests. 

All in all, there is no perfect solution to this problem, but high school students should not be feeling the absurd amounts of pressure and stress that are seen at Miramonte. The Miramonte administration must take steps to prevent academic pressure from controlling students’ lives.