Eleventh-Grade Stress, New York City Style

New York magazine’s recent issue, “Peace and Quiet,” profiled an eleventh-grade student at Dalton, a private school in Manhattan. This is how the student describes his life:

Especially around college-application time, things get pretty stressful at school. In addition to all my academics, I take creative writing, percussion ensemble, and jazz ensemble. I don’t have time to play a sport, so I have to take a gym class, but the only time I can go to the gym is during my lunch period. Last month, in addition to regular homework, I had one week to write an English essay, a history essay, a creative-writing piece, a math project, and a proposal for a Spanish presentation—plus study for a math test, a Spanish test, and a physics test. Sometimes I’ll eat pure coffee beans to stay awake, but there is no day when I get to sleep late. Saturday mornings I get up at eight for driver’s ed, and Sundays I get up at eight for SAT prep. I have to utilize what I like to call “the nap factor.” I usually take naps on my couch. If I’m staying late at school, the English lab is pretty comfy.

I make sure I see friends on the weekends so I don’t fall into a dark spiral of depression brought on by hours of homework and a lack of human interaction. But probably the thing that helps me most is playing drums. I’ve been playing for a while, in school (as my art credits) and outside of school, in my band, Ibid. It’s nice to be able to rent out practice space for a few dollars and just beat the crap out of the drums for a while. It’s even nicer to think that beating the crap out of the drums might help me get into college.

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