The bell rings, and freshman Annabel Long jumps up from one of her honors classes to hurry to her next class, AP World History, which is then followed by yet another honors class. This is the typical day for Long and many underclassmen who take many difficult classes.
Long said that along with AP World History, she has a very difficult schedule with classes including Honors Biology, Honors Precalculus and Honors English 9.
Because she is in several advanced classes, she said a lot of her classes do not have many kids from her grade in them. For example, she said that there are only two other freshmen in her Honors Precalculus class.
“It’s a little weird to have older kids in my classes,“ Long said. “The different grades don’t really talk to each other, which is a bit awkward. I enjoy the class, but I’d much rather be in a class with my friends.”
She explained that she chose to take these classes because she is a perfectionist and strives to challenge herself as much as possible, so if she took easier classes, she would be unhappy.
“It makes me feel good when I challenge myself with hard classes and then succeed,” Long said. “I think it’s important to challenge yourself to prepare for later in life and to learn as much as possible.”
Sophomore Madeline Auch, who takes Honors English 10 and Honors Biology, also said that she chose to take these classes to push herself academically. Auch’s parents encourage her to take harder classes, but overall it is her choice to take these more advanced courses, she said.
“I like to challenge myself and surprise myself with how well I can do when I try my hardest,” Auch said. “It is very rewarding.”
However, sophomore Charles Seck, whose classes include Honors Precalculus and AP U.S. History, said that he chose to take these harder classes because of the GPA boost and to have a more impressive college resume. Going out of state for college is very important to him, he added, so he has to have a strong transcript.
“It’s a lot more competitive to go to out-of-state schools, and the hard strength of classes will give me a leg up on other applicants,” Seck said.
Although Seck is a strong student, he said that sometimes he starts to feel a lot of pressure when he has a lot of work for every class all at once and does not have enough time to get it all done.
“A few points through the year I’ll get assigned four or five tests within two days, and it’s very hard to be fully prepared for each class,” Seck said.
Long also said that at times she has questioned why she chose to take such hard classes because she felt so overwhelmed.
“I remember one weekend not long ago, I had a swim meet, playwriting, and a ton of homework to do,” Long said. “That weekend was really awful, and I was stressed the entire time wondering how I was going to get all of my work done.”
Long added that although it was a lot to handle, she forced herself to push through.
“What stopped me from quitting was that I knew it would be over soon, and the workload would go back to being tiring but manageable…and the vast majority of days I was going to be fine,” she said.
Auch said that she also often gets stressed about getting all of her classwork done and keeping up her grades in some of her harder classes.
“I always want to do well, and when I don’t it makes me a bit nervous,” she said. “Seeing and comparing what my friends have can also make me stressed if I am not doing as well as them.”
She said that when she feels overwhelmed by school work or worried about grades, she finds ways to deal with her stress.
“Stepping away or taking a deep breath usually helps,” Auch said. “Also, the more distractions in the room the more stress I have, so I try to set my phone out of the room if I don’t need it.”
Seck said that when he has a stressful time like this when he is overloaded with work to do, he also has tools to manage his stress.
“I only really get stressed out at the ending of quarters while trying to get final assignments in and other stuff, so usually I’ll just listen to music or watch TV to destress,” Seck said.
In order to succeed and have less stress about school, Seck said that he thinks it is important to choose classes that you enjoy.
“I’m happy with the courses I took this year, but next year I will probably take harder courses in the subjects I’m interested in and take lighter classes in subjects that I’m not,” Seck explained.
Long said that she thinks that in order to do well in difficult classes, it is important to not procrastinate.
“Breaks are really important to rest your mind and mentally prepare yourself to go back to work,” she said. “It’s important, though, to not procrastinate and make the breaks too long, which will end up hurting you in the long run.”
With the leap from regular classes to honors classes, Auch said that she had to realize that it requires a lot more independence, so a key to success is building good relationships with the teachers.
“Relationships with your teachers change the whole experience,” Auch said. “Try to email or meet with them when you need help.”
Although honors and AP classes can be very strenuous, Long said that she believes that taking them is worth it.
“I feel the pros outweigh the cons,” she said. “It does take a lot of time and effort, but your work just makes it all the more rewarding when you do well in the class and challenge yourself.”