Junior Year and Mental Health

11th grade, high school’s most difficult year, elicits so much student stress that it’s time to ask whether it’s all worth it.

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photo by Jess Daninhirsch

The amount of stress that junior year brings is more than one can handle.

Anna Parsons, Staff Writer

Anytime someone asks what year in school I’m currently in and I say I’m a junior, their reaction goes from curious and intrigued to plain out sympathetic. The 11th grade’s reputation for being high school’s most difficult year is one that it continues to uphold year after year. And the stress associated with it creates a negative lasting impression on students that poses the question: is it all worth it? 

People always say, “Oh, this isn’t going to matter in 10 years!” in regards to school work, but the grades and test scores of junior year are arguably the most influential to a person’s future. The path from high school to college to a career is largely based upon what happens in a student’s junior year. 

However, the mental deterioration that usually occurs during the 11th grade is so harmful to juniors that it’s almost as if society needs to reflect and reevaluate the important qualities of life. 

What’s more important — allowing teenagers to be mentally stable and happy during the definite time they have right now or the unpredictable future? 

The mental deterioration that usually occurs during the 11th grade is so harmful to juniors that it’s almost as if society needs to reflect and reevaluate the important qualities of life. ”

Think about it. Is it worth it for students to stay up until 3:00 A.M. every morning to simply finish their school work? Giving up precious sleep in order to simply get through the next school day seems counterproductive.  The extensive testing required to further education paths, the intense level of school work, and the extremely difficult classes are elements that make junior year harder than any other year. 

Now, to wish that junior year should be completely carefree is ridiculous, but if the overwhelming nature of it was decreased to an extent, the year would be less harmful to students. This would ultimately save their mental states. Even the most hard working students, those who could consider school “easy,” find themselves trapped behind the gates of junior year. 

Stress is not a completely negative aspect of school. It helps people push past comfort levels, improve how they deal with stress in life, and ultimately work harder and better. But, like everything else in life, balance is key. Junior year does not take balance into the equation, and that’s the problem. The amount of stress is more than what one person can possibly handle leading to why so many juniors crack under the pressure. 

It is simply not worth it for a year of academics to destroy a learner’s mental health. School is not meant to demolish a pupil’s mind, but to build it up. 

It’s important to realize that one year of education should not cost the mental health of thousands and thousands of students. It should not be that way. ”

The pressure that schools, the College Board, colleges in general, teachers, and even students themselves put behind the 11th year of education is, when looked at as a whole, overwhelming. The expectations are far beyond what they should be.

Yes, getting good grades, creating a bright future, working hard, and taking the steps needed to accomplish a future past high school are all important in every way. But our society has taken these golden objectives of a high school student and pulled them to the utmost extremes where what should be goals turn into burdens. 

Unfortunately, not much can be done to combat the excessive stress of junior year on a higher level, but on an individual level, students can combat their own stress with the year. Focusing on their mental states more than usual, taking one day at a time, and prioritizing at least some time to just relax are all very small ways to combat the 11th grade stress.  

It’s important to realize that one year of education should not cost the mental health of thousands and thousands of students. It should not be that way.