Stressed Seniors- Are Online Classes Actually Doing More Harm Than Good?

A senior at Fairfield Warde High School wakes up at 7:30 am for online classes. Upon opening her computer, she sees tabs upon tabs containing documents of her college supplemental essays, the Common App, her Google Classroom pages for each of her online classes, Google Meets, and possibly a few assignments that have yet to be finished and are overdue. She goes into her first period Google Meet and receives the notifications from each of her classes about the work that is due that day.

It’s more work per day than she would get if she were fully in-person. What about her college applications?

The stress of applying to college is a normal occurrence every year for seniors all around the world. But, it seems that having online classes and the pandemic is adding more pressure and stress to the process because of the workload students are receiving.

The seniors of Fairfield Warde share similar views on this matter.

“It’s so much harder than it should be,” Andrew Shavinsky said while turning around his computer to show the applications he’s trying to complete before November 15. “I’m completely overwhelmed.”

Why is that? What is making online school so much more difficult?

“No one knows what they’re doing,” Shavinsky continued. “The workload balance between classes and applications isn’t right. I think it’s because the teachers can’t see what we’re doing at home.”

Other students reacted similarly to the question, almost every one of them sighing heavily before speaking.

“I just need more time. We’re being assigned more work on online days than on in-person days,” Mairead Coyne said. “I feel like I’m falling behind in school because I’m focused on my college applications and work is being piled on.”

“I need to use my online days for applications and I feel like there’s too much school work to do right now,” Hayley Murnick agreed. “I have deadlines I need to meet. College is my future and my mindset is only on that at the moment. It’s hard to focus on anything else.”

It’s clear that stress is heightened during these months, and online school is merely adding to that. It may not be the act of online school itself, but it seems there needs to be more communication between teachers and students in terms of pushing assignment due dates back and how much is due within the month of November.

In simple terms, “It’s not looking too hot,” said Shavinsky.

Given the current situation presenting itself to the senior class, Principal Paul Cavanna held a Google Meet Town Hall meeting to converse with seniors about changes that need to be made, concerns, senior activities, and ideas for how to make the year feel normal and more fun.

The first topic brought up was, of course, online learning and college applications combined with the pressure the seniors are feeling.

Claire Harper, a current senior in the midst of submitting applications brought up an important point after conversing on the subject with fellow seniors.

“We know that teachers care about their students and well-being. It’s just harder during the pandemic,” she said. “Going to all of our classes on Wednesdays online and getting new material is both ineffective and more stressful.”

At this point, many students nodded their heads in agreement.

“I was wondering if seniors, at least for the months of November and December, have Wednesdays to work on college applications and catch up on work, meaning no class,” Harper continued. “We need a day to have our guidance counselors available and work.”

So, what’s the plan?

Although there is currently no definite answer, it is an idea that most seniors are on board with and would benefit from. “All we need is time,” Murnick said, “I think we can make it happen.”

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