Burning Out: Academically competitive environment affects CHS students’ ability to keep up with workload


Calina He

Falling Asleep: Senior Hannah Kosc zones out during SRT. She said she often finds herself extremely tired after long nights staying up in an attempt to complete her homework.

Jessica Konrad

As the minute hand of the clock approaches 3:05 p.m., the tension in the classroom grows with each passing second. Antsy students squirm in their chairs, while others start crowding around the door in eager anticipation of the final bell. For many students, the bell signals the end of a long day of school and the start of time at home for studying, relaxing or spending time with family. But, for senior Hannah Kosc, the workday has only just begun.

Kosc is a leader of Model U.N., president of Rho Kappa, a member of the debate team, a women’s tennis team player and a volunteer for School on Wheels. In addition to her demanding extracurricular commitments, Kosc filled her academic schedule with only full-weighted classes. 

Constantly under pressure to achieve, Kosc said the rigor of her schedule has made finding balance within her life and staying stress-free a difficult task. 

Kosc said, “As the year has progressed, I have become more efficient with managing my schedule. However, there are certainly times when I feel stressed. For example, I will often have days when there is some assessment in all of my classes for the day. This is difficult to manage at times, considering the rigor of the classes and the expectations I have for my performance.”

Kosc is not alone in her commitment to a demanding schedule. She is only one of many hyper-involved students at CHS with a devotion to maintaining a competitive GPA and building a resume for college. 

Senior Satvik Kumar is a good example to show this.

Kumar said he is involved in Science Olympiad, Carmel InvenTeam, Rho Kappa, Math Club, Philharmonic Orchestra, Boy Scouts, Carmel Clay Public Library Teen Library Council, plays the mridunga and participates in other academic competitions. The length alone of his extracurriculars seems impressive, but Kumar said for students at CHS, this level of commitment is standard for the course.     

Kumar said, “It seems like many of the students at CHS are as involved as I am, if not more involved.”

Along with the pressure of applying to college and scoring high marks on standardized tests, there is one common source of stress for all CHS students: pressure to achieve in an academically competitive environment.

Kosc said she definitely feels the pressure to achieve success in CHS’s academically competitive atmosphere. 

“There are so many overachievers at CHS that it has become the standard for kids to take a heavy course load alongside many extracurriculars; (it’s) an atmosphere that fosters a very tangible pressure and atmosphere of competition, which has definitely had an impact on my course load.”

In an effort to alleviate some of the negative effects of this academic pressure, director of counseling Rachel Cole said counseling tries to emphasize the importance of a balanced schedule to students.

She said, “I think it is very important for everyone to have a balanced schedule. We all need to value taking care of our health, mental health (and) each other as well as our academics.”

Additionally, Cole said counselors assist each student in crafting a manageable schedule with the goal of preventing stress and burnout. 

Despite counseling’s focus on helping students foster and develop a sense of balance in their lives, Kosc said she personally has chosen to sacrifice balance for the sake of her academic and extracurricular commitments. 

Kosc said, “While I have always made time for my extracurricular activities, I feel like the two parts of my life that have suffered the most because of my academic commitments are my sleep schedule and my social life. While I am a very social person, I have found myself not making plans with friends as often this year due to the volume of school work I often have. In terms of my sleep schedule, it has become a choice between sleep and doing my homework in many cases.”

Kumar similarly said he has not been able to invest himself as much in his hobbies during his junior year because of his academic commitments. 

Kosc also said she often burns out as a result of her involvement in various extracurricular activities. 

Kosc said, “Particularly, during tennis season I am physically exhausted when I get home from matches at 7 or 8 p.m., which means that if I did all of my homework I would most likely not be sleeping until after midnight.”

Sleep deprivation and all, Kosc said she is still satisfied with the decisions she made regarding her extracurricular and academic commitments.

“After being accepted to my top-choice school, it definitely feels like my hard work has paid off,” Kosc said. “Through the reflection process (I went through in applying to colleges), I was able to see beyond the exhaustion and workload and discuss the learning that came alongside some of my toughest academic experiences.”