FEATURE — February 12, 2021 at 2:00 pm

[Multimedia] The reality of overworked and unmotivated high school students during the global pandemic

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Students across the nation have faced changes in their everyday lives with the implementation of virtual learning. Photo by Theron Piccininni
Students across the nation have faced changes in their everyday lives with the implementation of virtual learning. Photo by Theron Piccininni 

Year after year, high school students are continuously placed under large amounts of stress. The combination of parental, social and internal pressures within the lives of most students can often take a toll on their overall well-being. Especially due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are experiencing these pressures daily, and the effects of said pressures have not gone unnoticed.

Although most teens dedicate a large portion of their time to school, they each have their own individual goals and priorities unrelated to academics. What many students believe adult figures fail to understand is that even when it’s difficult to decipher their true feelings, they still experience loss of motivation, stress and exhaustion.

“Being a cheerleader while working a part-time job introduced me to the real world, which I’m not sure I’m ready to experience because I’m already so stressed with school,” sophomore Mya Pierrot said. 

The combination of having a large workload and little time to complete and turn in assignments tends to push students to procrastinate. Procrastination causes them to ignore their priorities in an attempt to relieve the anxiety they feel because of those priorities. 

“I am usually worn out from other aspects like work and extracurriculars, but I usually procrastinate in my free time. It’s put back my work schedule and I’m not able to focus as much as I should, leaving me overwhelmed,” junior Vitor Tavares said.

In the end, procrastination can hurt students even more than the stress of the work they had originally. Their lack of focus makes their workload even greater and gives them less time to get it done correctly. Not only does this add additional burdens to their schedules than they had to begin with, but it often causes poor and inadequate work. 

“I procrastinate regularly, and when I wait until the last minute to do my work, I don’t put as much effort into the assignments,” sophomore Giuliana Venturini said.

Much of this procrastination is also due to students’ lack of motivation, which has increased significantly since the start of virtual classes. The organized and productive environment that the MSD campus provides supports a strong work ethic. 

“Being at school helps me get my work done because even though it’s through teams, just being at school helps me stay motivated and forces me to pay attention in class,” freshman Alejandro Vasquez said.

Furthermore, the teachers and faculty at MSD not only encourage, but demand the attention of their students. Teachers do not tolerate chatting or sleeping during a lesson while in class. They take the responsibility of keeping their students on task and away from distractions. 

“The pandemic has affected my motivation by causing me to have trouble focusing, allowing me to put in minimal effort and not being able to have the school experience that creates a work environment,” sophomore Kylie Messmer said.

However, teachers do not have the ability to remove these distractions from behind a screen. Without the physical presence of their teachers, students are often drawn to disturbances that would typically be left at home or tucked away if they were to be in school.

“In all honesty, I’m barely able to get out of bed if I’m not forced. There’s no one telling me to pay attention or get off my phone and it’s hard to do those things on my own,” sophomore Sophia Cheng said.

What makes procrastination and lack of motivation so hard to handle include many students’ overwhelming need to do well academically (95% of those we surveyed confirmed this). In most cases, being a well rounded and academically successful student is associated with intelligence and future financial stability. For this reason, there is oftentimes no shortage of parental, societal and self-inflicted pressures that are placed on each student to be “perfect.”

“Yes, I have very high expectations for myself. Because my siblings did so well in school, I feel the need to follow in their footsteps and get into a prestigious college,” Venturini said.

Finding the motivation to focus on and complete even just a few tasks is anything but easy for strained and burnt out students, therefore students can benefit from finding strategies that encourage the mindset that being productive is more rewarding than scary. 

Some students find it helpful to visualize how they’ll feel after they’ve completed all their work. Oftentimes, a reminder of how accomplished they’ll feel is enough to persuade them to get back on track.  

“When I am feeling unmotivated, I often remind myself of how good I will feel once my assignments are done. I tell myself that my future self would thank me if I do the assignments now,” Tavares said.

In other cases, the reason that a student does not feel like making a real effort is because they are overworking themselves. There’s only so much stress and pressure that one person can handle. These students typically benefit from taking regular breaks.

Whether these breaks include meditation, watching Netflix or spending time with friends all depend on the individual. The overall goal is that these students have a chance to replenish their spirits and focus on themselves. 

“I try to give myself rewards for hard work, or stagger assignments so I can keep myself energized during completing work, instead of working for hours on end in only one class,” sophomore Renata Silva said.

Although many overworked students do struggle with lack of motivation and handling their workload, there are methods in which they can undergo in order to turn this around. The relief and joy that comes from the feeling of being productive and accomplished is what truly motivates overworked students to put their best foot forward in everything they do. 

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Sophia Golberg is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She is a first-year staff member for the Eagle Eye. She enjoys baking and spending time with her friends.

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Ava Jurick is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School She is a hard-working and talented Eagle Eye staff member.

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