Molly Gold is a Staples High junior, and creative director of Inklings, the school newspaper.
Her insightful piece on her experience since mid-March with “distance learning” caught our eye. She wrote:
Balancing SAT preparation, beginning the college process, rigorous coursework, extracurriculars, sports and the already insurmountable pressure that students face all add up to create the monster that is junior year.
This year, however, our knight in shining armor wasn’t the arrival of summer, but rather the implementation of distance learning. In what seems like the blink of an eye AP tests have been reduced, college tours have gone virtual, SATs have been pushed back and for many, our extracurriculars are no longer available, lessening our load.
Most students at Staples are used to feeling high amounts of pressure to excel in all aspects of their education. In my experience, this pressure has almost exclusively stemmed from myself and my classmates, rather than my parents and teachers.
Now that my education has become completely independent from my peers, I have felt more relief than I would have ever anticipated. I no longer sit in class writing a timed essay, while simultaneously glancing over to see if my paper’s length is similar to that of the student sitting next to me. I no longer rush through math tests, worried that I’m turning it in too early or too late.
I no longer feel the need to hold myself to anyone else’s standards aside from my own. Without the added pressure that so many of us have come to accept as just a part of our education, I have found myself much more eager to complete assignments with the purpose of learning, rather than getting a good grade.
Additionally, with virtual tours and postponed standardized tests, our dive into the college process just became much more manageable. Although the virtual tours are often difficult to truly gauge a school’s environment and facilities, we now have the unique opportunity to visit virtually any school in the country without leaving our couches.
This has been a game changer for me. I have been able to visit a wide range of schools within minutes of each other, which would not have been possible through traditional tours. Because there’s nothing to lose from clicking through a website, I have been more open to looking into schools that I originally thought weren’t right for me. This has caused me to be able to enter my college application process with a much more open mind than I otherwise would have had.
Additionally, without the daunting presence of an impending SAT or ACT, I feel less pressure to cram in preparation for the test. Not only do I have more time to prepare, but with a shortened school day, I am able to balance studying with schoolwork much more easily.
As many schools go temporarily test-optional for the class of 2021, the additional pressure to obtain top scores is no longer relevant.
While all of these things have significantly made junior year easier, they don’t compare to one thing: sleep. Between sports, extracurriculars, homework and getting up at the crack of dawn to secure a spot at Wakeman (that last one might just be me), so many students have become accustomed to running on less than 5 hours of sleep.
Now that our learning has been placed on our time, we are able to enjoy all of the sleep that we need. While we still sometimes have to get up for an 8:30 Google Hangout, there’s nothing stopping us from resuming our sleep after class.
While the flexibility in our education has given many of us bizarre sleep schedules, I can’t remember a time where I have been able to consistently get the right amount of sleep. Now when we’re staying up late, it’s usually for Zoom calls with friends or Netflix binges, not last-minute essays or cramming for a test.
While I miss my friends, activities and routines, there truly is nothing like waking up at 11 on a Monday to start your classwork while eating breakfast in your pajamas.
(Click here for the May issue of Inklings.)