Stress for Seniors

Taylor O'Connor, Editor

This time of year is overwhelming for seniors because of homework, fall sports, the college search, college application deadlines, ACT retakes and still finding time for sleep. After taking a survey, seniors ranked eight things in their school life on a scale of one to five, five causing extreme stress and one causing the least amount of stress.

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Majority of the senior class are stressed because of lack of sleep. According to, “Research suggests that early school start times are in conflict with sleep needs of adolescents. Half (50%) of parents of students in grades 9- 12 report a school start time before 8 AM, with almost one in five (18%) reporting a start time before 7:30.”

Psychology research tells us that the brain doesn’t function properly until we receive eight hours of sleep. Many students today do not get that amount and because of this, they experience side effects including:higher anxiety levels, interference with concentration or learning ability, weakened immune system and feeling sluggish.

Teens often have irregular sleep patterns (getting up early on the weekdays and sleeping in on weekends)resulting in poor quality of sleep.

Principal Cheri Broadhead says there have been discussions on whether or not the administration should push the start time back. The only problem is meetings or extracurriculars could be moved to an earlier time, defeating the purpose of a later start time.

She believes that distractions such as phones, computers or television should be turned off before bed, giving you extra time for sleep.

Whether you agree with her or not, it’s true. According to the Huffington Post, looking at screens or bright things before bed does not benefit sleeping, but rather suppresses it. By staring at a screen before bed, melatonin (a hormone that is released to make you sleepy) is not being secreted from the brain. Without melatonin in your system, your body will have a harder time going to sleep and staying there. Though the late start time may seem beneficial, there are ways you can go to bed earlier.

At NYU, a study was conducted on High School students. There was a “… growing awareness that many subgroups of youth experience high levels of chronic stress, to the extent that it impedes their abilities to succeed academically, compromises their mental health functioning, and fosters risk behavior. Furthermore, this chronic stress appears to persist into the college years…” (

After completing the study, they discovered nearly half of a private school’s student body experiences stress on a daily basis. The question is, what will our teachers do with this information?

Along with sleep, homework was in the top three causes of stress. “This information is helpful to teachers as well,” said AP English teacher, Amy Smith. If teachers see this information, they could see what could be done as an in class assignment or give them work time rather than taking home heavy homework loads.

As for sleep, she thinks homework corresponds with the amount of sleep the seniors are getting. If they have less homework to do at home, the more time they’ll have for sleep.  

This time of year is all about college applications for seniors, taking the third place spot for stress in the senior class. With the November 1st deadline coming up, students are scrambling to get in their applications along with completing other homework and staying involved in extracurriculars.

Guidance Counselor Julie Michels works specifically with seniors for this reason. She says the first thing seniors need to do is communicate with their counselor to discuss anything confusing about college applications in order to speed up the process of applying. Also, your counselor can take away worries, like transcripts or letters of recommendation,  that you don’t have to worry about anymore. Don’t try to do everything by yourself, counselors are here for a reason!

Many colleges require essays to be submitted for the application as well. Ms. Michels says that this is another overwhelming piece of the application. She believes there is a point in writing where students need to decide they can no longer edit their paper and have to submit it. Then it is out of the way and one less thing to worry about. The third and final tip she gives is to be balanced and organized. Setting personal deadlines and using a calendar can make students feel less scattered by having the ability to check everyday when their deadlines are coming. Stay on top of where you are at in the application process and don’t hand things in the last minute.

“Don’t worry about the things you don’t have control over,” said Ms. Michels regarding college applications. You may or may not get accepted into a school you want or get that ACT score bumped up. These things are out of your control and getting stressed out about them is a waste of time.

If you are feeling stressed, remember to use your time wisely and to ask for help when you are feeling overwhelmed. Find time to sleep and take breaks from what is causing the problem. Stepping back and relaxing is okay, being overstressed won’t allow you to complete tasks anyway.  Stress is a normal state to be in, but being there all the time is unhealthy. Find time to relax and enjoy your senior year, rather than stress about it.