Monday, October 11, 2021

Student Voice: Academic Pressure on Young People in Education

Author

Ellissa Hatoum

Youth Advisory Board member

Young people have excessive pressure put on them to achieve/exceed the academic standard in the education system in hopes to positively impact students, in order for them to obtain high academic results. Ironically however, this unintentionally negatively impacts students' academic performance as it can put a strain on students' wellbeing, thus causing students to do poorly in school and potentially leading  to them developing academic stress. Academic pressure is the pressure put on students from work overload, long periods of studying and high grade expectations. This article will discuss the negative effects of academic pressure and stress on young people and strategies that can combat the academic pressure and stress young people endure.


In some cases academic pressure encourages students to perform better in school and increases their productivity levels as they are more motivated to achieve high results. Most of the time however, and from my personal experience, academic pressure results in a fixation to perform better in school to the extent where young people begin doubting their capabilities and knowledge. High levels of academic pressure led me to overthink and worry about the marks I was receiving as I was afraid of facing disappointment. I would lose concentration and focus when studying due to constantly stressing about the outcome of my exams and assignments which in turn caused me to procrastinate and have low self esteem. Academic pressure is mostly evident in young people at the time of assignments and exams since that is when there is large amounts of workload to be completed and when students are spending large amounts of time studying. This is a very difficult and overwhelming time for students as there is a high demand for students to do well and more pressure put on them from their parents, teachers and society. While academic pressure is intended on motivating students in school, it results in students being burdened with high expectations in academic performance. 


Academic pressure negatively affects students' social, physical, cognitive and physiological health and increases the chances of students developing disorders such as anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and insomnia. Approximately 47% of Australian students experience academic stress. Academic stress involves the stress from academic challenges in education and leads to a lack of student academic motivation. This has increased the likelihood of students dropping out of school. Academic stress in students has only been increasing which has contributed to the enhanced suicide rate among young people. The majority of students have normalised excessive academic stress, decreasing the severity of it which has left young people to endure it throughout their schooling. Since it has been so normalised, young people do not recognise it to be an issue that should be managed. If academic stress is not managed properly, students may be subjected to an academic burnout where they suffer emotional and physical exhaustion. Academic stress and pressure hinder young people’s capabilities in education hence there needs to be a variety of strategies accessible to young people so they can manage and overcome academic stress and pressure.


Young people will at some point encounter academic pressure and stress - therefore, they need to be exposed to ways to combat them. Strategies to manage academic pressure and stress include: 

  • Educators providing young people with programs for time management, prioritisation and organisation - So that when young people do get heavy academic workloads, they know how to manage them.
  • Schools developing support groups for young people who are struggling with understanding and completing tasks - To prevent young people from excessively stressing about tasks
  • Teachers providing students with study tips for exams and thoroughly going through assessment tasks - So students feel well prepared for exams and understand assignments properly, reducing their stress levels
  • Teachers arranging a variety of learning resources for students - To accommodate the needs of all students, ensuring all students are understanding so they do not feel pressured
  • Limiting the amount of homework given in times of exams and assignments- This reduces the overwhelming pressure put on young people and allows them to focus more on their exams and assignments so they can achieve higher academic results


Academic pressure and stress from heavy workload, extensive time studying and high expectations have proven to negatively affect young people in terms of their well being and health, as well as their academic performance. This academic pressure and stress have only made it more difficult for young people in education. It is necessary that the amount of academic pressure and stress be reduced and managed to ensure that young people are able to perform their best academically and socially in the education system. 


References:

https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/nearly-half-of-australian-school-kids-are-stressed-heres-how-to-fix-it-20180126-h0omvq.html

https://www.mvorganizing.org/what-is-academic-student-pressure/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5856041/

https://medium.com/one-future/academic-stress-in-students-498c34f064d7

Additional Note: This article was written by,

Ellissa Hatoum

. This author is a member of YLAA's Youth Advisory Board. As our organisation continues to evolve, we want to make sure that we continue to represent and empower the voices of youth in their own affairs, that’s why we have created our first Youth Advisory Board - not only to ensure that our students’ interests are at the core of every aspect of our organisation, but also to give the young people we serve the opportunity to develop themselves personally, whilst contributing to our mission of ensuring a sustainable future for all youth.