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Opinion: The academic strain on students after break

Mi Nguyen
After a well needed break, students may struggle to get back into the flow of school. In this opinion piece, join writer Audrey Szijj as she talks about the strain on students that comes after winter break.

Coming back to school after winter break can be challenging, especially for students at Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) where semester one finals lurk right around the corner. The time crunch between these two is only a couple of weeks long, which can cause academic strain for many students as they try to remember everything they’ve learned in the months prior break.  On top of this, students also feel the stress of having spent a long period of time away from the busy school environment and have to readjust to classroom dynamics. This combination can lead to mental health problems and academic burnout.

Many student’s sleep schedules get messed up during winter break, meaning that they go to sleep late and wake up late. Therefore, having to quickly readjust back to waking up before Foothill Tech’s start time of 8:30 a.m. can be difficult and tiring for some students, especially after two whole weeks off. 

Furthermore, immediately having to jump right back into tedious and strenuous work  can put a lot of strain on students mentally and academically. Considering that finals are typically worth 20 percent of a student’s semester grades, it can be easy to get discouraged and stressed out. According to an article by the Honor Society,  ”Finals week is often synonymous with stress. The weight of impending exams, assignments and projects can lead to heightened anxiety levels among students. The constant juggling act of studying, revising and managing time can leave them feeling overwhelmed and mentally exhausted.” The desire to exceed and maintain good grades in school can significantly impact students’ mental health and grades can turn into a competition, leaving students feeling the need to compare themselves to their peers.

Everyone is trying to remember what they learned before break and then add on to that with new material before finals, it just feels a little hectic.

— Naomi Schwartz ‘26

With only two weeks between the end of winter break and finals, an extra amount of stress can often be added onto these other possible factors. The academic pressure and strain on high school students at the start of the second semester can be challenging for students and educators alike. Students might feel overwhelmed by the sudden demands of returning to the classroom, and teachers might feel the added pressure of trying to help students cope with this stressful situation. Another stress inducing factor for teachers is the grading process for hundreds of students. In an article by The Portola Pilot on the stress teachers feel during finals week, it is stated that, ”Maintaining a balance between quality feedback and time management in order to pass back formatives can be especially stressful for educators.” 

According to the Nebraska-Lincoln University Health Center, there are many strategies that can help you cope with the rising stress levels during finals week. For example, getting physically active and maintaining a balanced diet can positively affect your mood while staying organized as well as prioritizing goals can alleviate stress. For students, there is also help from teachers at Foothill Tech, most of whom give students study guides and practice tests for review. However, if an extra support system is needed, students are welcome to visit Foothill Tech’s Wellness Center or the school’s guidance counselors, where they can find emotional and mental support.

Although having to go into finals right after winter break can be stress inducing, Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified) is switching to a slightly different schedule next year, meaning that high schools would have semester one finals before winter break. But for now, it’s important to navigate this stressful time with helpful coping strategies, and to make good use of the academic resources and emotional support available on campus.

Do you suffer from academic strain, especially after winter break?


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About the Contributors
Audrey Szijj
Audrey Szijj, Writer
I'm a sophomore and a singer/songwriter/guitarist/pianist. Also I like strawberries.
Mi Nguyen
Mi Nguyen, Illustrator
First-year illustrator. Self proclaimed connoisseur of late night reading.

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Comments on articles are screened and those determined by editors to be crude, overly mean-spirited or that serve primarily as personal attacks will not be approved. The Editorial Review Board, made up of 11 student editors and a faculty adviser, make decisions on content.
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