Teachers give too much work in college app season

For three of the four grades at WJ, November 1 is a normal day; it’s just one of the hundreds of days they spend toiling away at schoolwork. But for seniors, November 1 is far more stressful than the average school day: it’s the day that many Early Action and Early Decision college applications are due. For many seniors, this means that the days leading up to and November 1 itself were chock-full of frantically writing college supplemental essays and filling out the Common App, ensuring that transcripts and recommendations are sent through and triple-checking that every little section on each application is correct.

Yet despite the college application season being an undeniably stressful process, many teachers continued to heap loads of coursework and homework on their students. At times, the coursework during the application season seemed to be even higher than average. I personally had a big test in one of my classes the day college apps were due, meaning that some of my precious time was spent frantically studying instead of working on my applications; I also had several chapters to read of an assigned book for English. A couple of my friends noted that they had large math projects assigned immediately before November 1, and some seniors (including myself) have had the additional stressful burden of our APEX Capstone project.

Frankly, these teachers’ decisions seem unfair and to be a gross oversight. College applications are one of the most important times in seniors’ high school careers: they obviously help determine what colleges you’ll be accepted into, and consequently narrow down your choices for higher education. If your application is poor, there’s a chance your choice college(s) won’t let you in. If students are stressed out or struggling with their course load, that will show in their application and possibly diminish its quality.

I (and probably most students) would probably choose to prioritize my college applications over my other schoolwork, given their relative importance, but I also don’t want to let my schoolwork go unfinished as a result. If teachers slightly lessened student workload during college applications, students could more effectively balance their applications and their schoolwork; they wouldn’t have to let the “ball drop” on either task.

Of course, some students and faculty may argue that students should just get their applications done ahead of time, so that they don’t have to worry about them when the deadline finally arrives. To those people, I say: I wish that all of us had the luxury of free time that you seem to enjoy. I absolutely would have completed all of my applications early if I’d had the opportunity, but I and most students are too busy juggling heavy course loads and extracurriculars—you know, the things that colleges look out for—to have the time to finish and submit applications early.

Walter Johnson’s faculty say that they care about our mental health, but many times, their actions seem to signal the opposite. To truly (for lack of a better term) put their money where their mouths are, WJ’s teachers need to realize that overburdening students with coursework during an already stressful time is incredibly aggravating to their mental health—and lessen the load to help out their students.