Teen stress: Are students becoming increasingly more stressed?


Elissa Gorman

Students find themselves overwhelmed with the responsibilities that high school brings.

Natalie Sadek, Online Editor

Senior Daphne Binto sits at her desk, hunched over a textbook for hours as it gets closer and closer to dawn. She grows more quiet as the stresses of school continue to overwhelm and fill her with fear.

Binto is taking four AP and two honors classes, filling her senior year with an endless workload and constant stress. However, Binto is not alone, for many high schoolers feel the overwhelming anxiety that school brings in order to heighten their chances of getting into a good college.

“There are some classes that I think suck because they’re hard and not fair or enjoyable, and I hate to say it but I take them to look good for college,” Binto said. “But there are also AP classes that I take because I genuinely enjoy them… I think that [stress levels] have definitely increased, especially from our parents’ generation. I don’t know if its this district or this school, but I know that my parents did not deal with the same stress that I have.”

There is no doubt that managing stress is a large part of going to high school. It prepares students for the much larger and more relevant stresses that life will bring in the future. However, stress levels experienced by the average high schooler have seemed to reach extremes. One can only wonder: have stress levels always been this high?  

In a 2017 annual study performed by American Psychological Association, 83% of students stated the majority of their stress originated from from school. This increased drastically from the same study done in 2006 where 68% of students stated that school was the origin of the majority of their stress.

According to science teacher Christine Thompson, during her 14 years of teaching, she has seen a radical change amongst the stress levels of students.

“I think part of the stress has to do with the APs, college admission, and GPA,” Thompson said.  “When I first came here they didn’t offer all these APs and not everyone took APs… We’ve ramped up the number of APs so students are taking more APs. AP classes in itself are stressful, so when you’re taking five of them, versus when you’re taking one, maybe two of them, it really adds to the stress levels.”

However, according to history teacher Nathaniel Uttaro, who has taught at the school for 17 years, high school has always been stressful, but the use of technology has altered students’ mindsets.

“I think that stress levels have remained the same throughout the years, but it’s the anxiety levels that have changed,” Uttaro said. “Phones allow you guys to constantly talk to each other about school all the time, going ‘oh this person is doing this’ and ‘that person is doing that’. When I was in school I used to go home and play on my Gameboy and that was that.”

Director of Guidance Lisa Connery also believes that social media has negatively impacted students and has seen increased stress from her first year of being a counselor at Algonquin, which was 14 years ago.

“I think that [stress levels] are very complicated,” Connery said.  “There are a lot of societal influences that affect how stressed kids are. I have seen a significant increase in social media and with the 24 hour access all the time. You can never walk away from anything. Technology can be very useful in life, but I think that there’s too much use and it doesn’t give kids time to step back.”

Depending on their course load, some students believe that stress levels at the school are very prominent whereas others think it’s normal.

“I think all schools have their ups and downs, and it depends on the classes you take,” junior Louis Stamoulis said. “Some classes that Algonquin offers can lead to certain amounts of stress and that can play a big factor in stress levels.”

“I feel like our school in particular, there is a lot of pressure to do well and since it is a good school, we are given the opportunity to do well,” junior Elaine Cho said.  “If you’re surrounded by other people who are just as competitive then that makes it a lot more stressful.”

All students deal with stress at some point in their high school career, but it is important for students to know their limits and keep grades in perspective.

“Everyone has their limits and everyone makes mistakes once in a while, but in the grand scheme of things, everything is going to be fine,” senior Carleigh Rosenberg said.  “Maybe you got a C on your math midterm, but that’s not what you will remember in 10 years; if it is then you’re crazy. But people are more than their grades, so focus on the big picture.”