A Rush to the Finish

The pandemic has put many classes behind schedule, and at the end of the year, students are paying the price.

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photo by D. Crickets

AP classes have struggled to adhere to the College Board’s schedule and give students adequate time to review.

Kristen Kinzler, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The pandemic has already ruined most of the traditional aspects of senior year, and now, the consequences of a year of hybrid and remote learning are destroying any sense of relief, relaxation, or satisfaction that students are supposed to feel in May.

Naturally, hybrid and remote learning are not the most efficient models of instruction. Attendance takes longer, class participation feels more cumbersome, and group projects or discussions are infinitely more complicated. As a result, many classes that have stuck to the same stringent schedule for years have fallen behind and, as the end of the year approaches, are trying to catch up.

While I understand the rush, it puts a massive burden on students. Teachers deliver hurried lessons, which makes it difficult to get a full understanding of the content. Then, they assign more out-of-class work to make up for time. More often than not, it results in confused students feeling overwhelmed with hours of homework and studying.

It wouldn’t be too much of a problem if it wasn’t happening in almost every single class, but, since every teacher was placed under the same frustrating circumstances this year, it is. In all but two of my courses, my teachers are rushing to finish this year’s content, giving more homework, and expecting students to just work harder.

When several different classes are suddenly demanding you put even more work in, all while continuing to study for AP tests and finals, it’s unsustainable.

I’m trying my very best, but I’m exhausted and burnt out. I’m staying up late every night doing homework, and I feel horribly unprepared for my AP tests next week. I’m torn between the desire to do well and enjoy the end of my senior year. Sure, my grades at this point may not matter all that much, but that doesn’t mean I want to end my high school career on a disappointing note.

When several different classes are suddenly demanding you put even more work in, all while continuing to study for AP tests and finals, it’s unsustainable.”

Many of my friends and classmates have expressed similar struggles, which is what made me realize that it isn’t just me. Most of them have said that school is more overwhelming right now than it has been all year. It’s a school-wide issue, not an individual one.

I’m not blaming teachers, especially not those who teach AP courses that have to adhere to a certain schedule. The AP test day is set in stone, and teachers have to get through all the material before then. That’s understandable.

However, the College Board should have never expected teachers to maintain the same schedule they did before the pandemic. It takes longer to fully understand concepts in an online setting, and no one should be punished because of that.

Last school year, the College Board did not include any content that would have been taught after March of 2020 on the exams. They realized that the pandemic changed everything about our school system.

But this year, when the pandemic was even worse, they acted like everything would just go back to normal. It’s ridiculous.

Students, however, are not just feeling overwhelmed in their AP courses. Plenty of Honors and Academic classes are in the same rush to finish all their content. They, on the other hand, have no reason that they have to get through everything. While it’s not ideal, teachers of those courses can much more easily prioritize content and set aside a couple of topics in order to save their students some stress.

It takes longer to fully understand concepts in an online setting, and no one should be punished because of that.”

There’s no reason why a teacher can’t skip that one big project, those extra few quizzes, or even that final exam this year. We all had to be flexible this year, and that flexibility should extend to lesson planning.

Not to mention, the truth is that very few people learned as well this year as they could have before the pandemic. Expecting that students be prepared for a final project or exam without providing any in-class review time is ludicrous. 

I’m not saying teachers should give their students any special treatment or cut them any more slack than they deserve. I’m willing to work hard and put time and effort into my classes. I’m just asking for it to be fair. It’s been a nearly impossible year full of challenges, and, unfortunately, that’s not just some overused platitude. 

All I want is to get a decent night’s sleep and to not have to spend all my weekends doing homework. The bare minimum would suffice.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much hope that things will get better. I know my teachers have my best interest at heart — they want to teach me all the AP test material and prepare me for my college courses — but I’m fairly certain that my courses will continue at the same insane pace. 

Honestly, it has all made the end of my senior year feel sour. The thought of leaving NASH used to be bittersweet, but at this point, the excessive work loads and school culture have made me more excited than ever to graduate.

But while it feels futile, I’m still asking that teachers take the opportunity to lessen their students’ stress if they can do so. Nothing helps more at the end of a mostly horrendous school year than a little bit of forgiveness and compassion.