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SPECIAL PROJECT: High Schoolers are Burned Out

Photo by Chim Unanwa

By Chim Unanwa
Co-Editor | The Pacific Times

With nearly a year since the onset of distance learning, many NP3 High students report feeling “burned out” from school, according to an online survey conducted by The Pacific Times.

A survey of NP3 High School students found that, on average, NP3 students’ overall outlook is worse now than at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

On average, students entered the school year feeling around a 6 on the scale, but at this point of the year, they feel closer to a 4. A score of 10 being “excited to learn” compared to a score of one being “tired of school.”

Out of 635 high schoolers, only 194 students — less than one-third — responded to The Pacific Times survey which was open for several weeks.

Most survey responses were from 10th graders at 51%, followed by 21.4% from 9th graders, 13.8% from 11th graders and 12.8% from 12th graders. A handful of NP3 middle schoolers also responded.

In the past year, NP3 High students have been polled and surveyed on everything from the yearbook to student government activities. The Pacific Times editorial staff has concluded that the lack of responses to this survey could be attributed to academic burnout and fatigue from getting polled and surveyed.

About 73% of students felt that distance learning has had a negative effect on their feelings toward school. Just 15.7% of students felt that it had a positive effect.

“I chose negative because I now lack motivation to do anything,” said one 9th grader. “I feel like everything is just about turning things in on time and I’m not having fun.”

According to the survey, some students feel that distance learning makes it harder to learn, since they aren’t in a proper learning environment.

One senior wrote, “It is difficult to stay on track of schoolwork when I’m not in a proper learning environment. Thus, I can’t differentiate the times when I’m just resting at home and being at school/doing offline work.”

Added one freshman, “It doesn’t feel like school, so I don’t treat it as such. I need a place that teaches my brain that it’s time to learn, and my home doesn’t do that for me.”

On the other hand, some students feel positive about distance learning.

“I don’t have to worry about what clothes I will wear or leave my dog,” responded one 11th grader. “I also enjoy not interacting with many people because I’m a tad anti-social.”

During distance learning, classes have been shorter than normal, but students have been assigned more homework. Some students dislike this change.

“Classes are so short, which would usually be a good thing, but it means there’s a lot more homework,” one senior wrote. “I would definitely prefer longer classes if it meant no, or little homework.”

One 10th grader added, “I feel like I do work more when it is given to me personally, and say something like ‘due before class ends.’ In distance learning there are long due dates.”

The trend of students feeling worse over time about school increases from grade to grade. Of 9th graders, 60% reported feeling worse than they did in August, as do 63% of 10th graders, 74% of 11th graders, and 84% of 12th graders.

Not one of the seniors surveyed feels better now than they did at the start of the year. The remaining 16% of seniors all reported feeling the same at both the beginning of the year as they do now. One possible explanation for seniors reporting they feel worse than other grade levels could be due to the pressure of senior projects.

One 12th grader said it is difficult to keep up with senior projects, due to the workload and the extra effort it requires due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The student noted that the senior project is especially stressful because it is a graduation requirement, and wrote that they believe it should have been optional for the Class of 2021.

“It can be really hard to remember meeting times, juggle assignments, manage out-of-school work effectively, etc.” another senior added. “It might be distance learning, it might be senior year, but I’ll find myself doing five to eight-plus hours of work each day (not counting Zoom meets) and still not getting everything done.”

Students reported they have been trying a variety of activities to motivate themselves to complete schoolwork. Some have used to-do lists, others have listened to music while doing school work. Many students use their grades as a motivation for completing schoolwork, according to the survey.

“I just think about the grades and my AP tests and how great it would feel if I could get high scores on both, despite COVID,” one 11th grader replied.

A common response from students was that taking care of their own mental health was essential for staying motivated.

“I know it’s overwhelming and a lot of people are struggling to have the motivation to do anything, let alone learn,” one 10th grader wrote. “Give yourself some time, take care of yourself and be patient with your mind. School is important but your well being is more important.”

For those students who are struggling with school, survey respondents recommended staying diligent and doing work on time to prevent falling behind in their classes.

“If you don’t do an assignment and start falling behind, you’re gonna have a hard time,” wrote one 10th grader. “I wouldn’t want anyone in the situation I am in.”

One senior added, “If you have trouble working on school by yourself and find yourself wanting to procrastinate by being on your phone or talking to friends, then pick a friend, become each other’s accountability partners, and work on things together.”

Students who are struggling in school may meet with their counselors to discuss their grades, their life, other personal or academic concerns, or just to say hello. NP3 High has a Counseling Request Form which students may use to schedule a time to meet with their counselors.

Counseling Request Form


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