By Avery Warren ’24
If you recently have had the pleasure to walk around campus to salvage these fleeting Autumn days, you have presumably encountered students overcome with stress surrounding finals. Yet why do students have to endure this formidable pressure? Why do students tend to rationalize their existence based on a grade?
Questioning teachers does not provide ample justification for the reasoning for exams. You are often confronted with answers like: “We have exams to understand or see what you have learned over the course of this term.” This response, to me, seems counterintuitive solely due to the fact that these finals examine how much you have studied as opposed to what you have learned. Additionally, it depletes the value and purpose of the numerous benchmark assessments students take throughout the term, to determine their comprehension of the material. Students demonstrate their adsorption of knowledge through actively engaging in class with the subject at hand and through displaying understanding through their work.
Frederick Gunn students are often enclosed in a high pressure environment in which they receive a relatively sizable workload. The intention of grades is to illustrate the effort a student puts into a course, but many students, among myself, perceive grades as a reflection of their individual value. This phenomenon induced by schools is interconnected with a multitude of facets. The most prevalent is a “reward system” that was imposed on learners at a young age. The concept that if you get a certain grade you would reap the punishment or benefits of it. This trains the psyche of students to internalize these grades as commentary on themselves.
Prep-schools have almost become synonymous with hard work. The structure of the schedule this year has minimized students’ personal time. Students are expected to attend commitments from 8:15 am to 10:0 0pm when their last commitment, study hall, ends. Throughout the day students may have zero to two free periods, which are often occupied by catching up on assignments or catching “Zs”. This schedule paired with work often leaves students feeling overwhelmed.
Jo Wimler, a sophomore at the school, describes the struggle of sacrificing aspects of her life; “Balancing academics, sports, club life and social life is definitely a challenge. It’s all about time management and what you value most. But it’s definitely difficult.” It is unfortunate that students feel the need to prioritize school over their individual and social needs. Senior Tori Nichele feels that she was “thrown into the deep end of academics with little help or guidance.” One thing is clear: Students want more sympathy and leinancy when it comes to schooling and their work.