A High School Student Speaks Out–I Love School, But It’s Killing Me

Today’s letter is from high school student, Sophia Warren, a 10th grader in Brooklyn, New York.

I Love School, But It’s Killing Me
by Sophia Warren

Dear Sara,

My name’s Sophia Warren (we’ve met before a few times now). I’m a sophomore currently at Packer in Brooklyn Heights, NY. Packer is a school that prides itself on the gifted children that attend it and the rigorous academics that they offer. For years I have spent hours on homework. Beginning in the second grade, I sat through standarized tests, I worked on handwriting, and filled out math work book after math work book.

When I was in the fourth grade, each student was assigned an “independent study project.” Most kids were told that they would be working on spelling, logic problems, etc. I was told that I would be writing a novel, working at least a half an hour on it every night plus completing my other homework. At first I was in love with the idea, happy to be exempt from spelling, but it soon took a turn and I found myself miserable and with writer’s block. I was just nine years old and I came home everyday, sat down, stared at my paper, and spent the next hour crying out of frustration. My mom had no idea what to do with me. She finally spoke to my teacher and said that although I had not been writing anything, I had in fact been thinking about the story. He said that my think was not work and that I would not be allowed to go outside the next day during recess and that I would have to work while everyone else had “free time” in the classroom. I spent four months of fourth grade sitting in the classroom at a desk and working while everyone else was permitted to have fun and run around. It did not seem fair to me and it still doesn’t. The finished product kept me up until almost five in the morning. The story was over 160 pages at completion.

I have always wanted to be a writer, but that assignment killed my love of writing for over a year. I figured that if it was that painful to write, I did not want to.

At the present, I spend over six hours on homework a night. It is only just

the beginning of the year and I have already realized that my social life will have to wait until the summer. Almost all of my friends are outside of my school and having six hours of homework a night gives me absolutely no time to see them whatsoever. I go out Saturday nights and work continuously all day on Sunday. I never get more than six hours of sleep a night. I have accepted already that this year I will have little fun, see my family rarely, never spend time with them, not see my friends as much as I would like, and not have nearly enough time to do the things I like. I love music. I’ve played the cello for years now and I’ve recently quit orchestra because I just didn’t have time for it. It was taking up free periods that I needed to complete assignments in. I also love to go the concerts, I love live music, I love booking shows, and I love being part of a community that revolves around excellent music. I find that internships I once had and loved now need to be discarded. I hate that things I enjoyed doing in the summer need to be shoved to the back of my closet until a year from now.

The saddest thing about all of this is that I truly love school. I really love it, but it’s killing me. I’m actually physically uncomfortable right now, my coloring is off, and I’ve already gotten the cold that I will have for the rest of the year. My immune system is already falling apart and I find myself drinking Emergen-C every morning just to keep me alive through the week.

Today I auditioned for the play. Rehearsals run for about four hours a day. I would get home at around seven-thirty every evening and then sit down to do all of my homework. Even the director doesn’t understand. She’s planned a tech rehearsal on Halloween! It’s a holiday! It’s a time to have fun! I put on my schedule that I cannot go to that and that I will not go to rehearsal on Fridays.

It’s healthy to have fun, is it not? It’s not fair that I don’t have time to read, draw, play the cello, see my friends, have dinner with my little brother, or go to the movies with my mom. I live in New York City. I want to submerge myself in its culture and learn from that and instead I spend everyday sitting in my room, slaving away.

A perfect example of the toll homework is taking on my life (and it’s only the second week of school!): Last night I sat down to do my French homework. French is one of my favorite subjects and I assumed the work would pass quickly. Turns out that I had to look up twenty-five vocabulary words, write sentences for each of them, and then write twelve sentences about the girl who sits next to me. I quickly realized that the work was going to take me a very long time. I begin to work and along comes my brother. He’s in the eighth grade, also at Packer. He’s also working on French homework. He’s struggling through his work as well and he keeps asking me questions. This is the saddest thing; we end up fighting! He gets upset because I tell him that I don’t have time to help him and to please stop talking to me and I get angry because he’s upset. I start to feel bad and five minutes later we’re both yelling at each other. My mom comes upstairs and we’re yelling and she starts yelling and my dad comes home from work and everyone’s upset. It puts him in a bad mood and the next thing you know, everyone is angry at one another all because of frustration about homework. I really wish this wasn’t the case.

I’m reading your book right now (there’s no telling how long it will take me though with this much work to do). I hope that I can just explain to my teachers. My teachers are always pretending that they’re conscious of the homework problems but they have the nerve to blame it on time management skills. They blame it on me! I am a fast worker and it takes me six hours. A boy told me just today that his history homework alone took him almost three hours last night.

I don’t want to hate school or learning, but everytime I say anything it is dismissed as irrational and an exaggeration. My teachers just don’t get it. I really wish they did because I find myself counting down the days until winter break already. I don’t have time to do anything I want to do. It makes me cringe to think about junior year and college pressure and the SATs. I have enough on my plate right now. My English teacher just gave us a list of TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY vocabulary words. TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY. That’s insane. We’ll be tested on it at the end of the year to help us for the SATs. High school has been a horror so far. I hear it gets worse. It makes me not want to go to college, which is really sad. I wish my mom would homeschool me, but not all parents have time for that or are qualified to do that. I wish there was somewhere that let me do things I love. I think I am a smart person- not to boast or anything, but I really do think that I’m smart and hardworking. I’m a straight A student and I pride myself in that, but the kids who don’t do homework always talk about what they did after school.

My A is costing me my social life.

Thanks for voicing your opinion on homework. I wish there were more people ready to stand up for both children and parents.

227 thoughts on “A High School Student Speaks Out–I Love School, But It’s Killing Me

  1. Hello everyone! I’ve heard everybody’s stories and I presume that most of you are from The US and the UK. You tell that you have 6 hours of home work everyday! All these days, I thought I was very unlucky. First, it tell you that I’m from India. We have a huge economy and a huge spectrum of economic classes. There are close to 450 schools in Chennai, my city itself. Chennai is India’s 2nd largest city. We have schools that cater to these different classes. But unlike most countries, the majority of our students study in private schools, including me because the public schools cater to most downward people. No offence Indian government! But noe coming to the topic, I study in The PSBB Millennium School, our school was ranked #3 in the nation last year by forbes magazine. So, studying in the best day school, we students have to maintain our ranks but the pressure on us is so frantically low! And particularly, I study well and I was the school topper last year too. But until I read this post, I thought I was very unlucky compared to downward Indian and American school, but after reading, I consider myself the most lucky person! And now, dont be angry at what im saying. Our school begins at 8 and ends at 3, I come home at 3:30 and you have homework only upto 7th grade! After which there is none. Amd even upto that we get no more than 30 minutes of homework! I know that other school have substantially higher amount of home work in our city but i have heard of none that spurts out 6 hours of Homework. And there is virtually no HOMEWORK for weekends and holidays for anybody and the faculty are happy if you could score good grades! And we only have 6 subjects! And foreign languages are an option for your preference. All this may seem so enjoyable for you but dont curse me for telling that I feel cramped when compared to primary school. I’m currently at 8th grade and have about 6 hours of free time apart from everything school and 9 hours of sleep. (Break times in school not included)?. So I feel so happy to be like this and I really pity you guys who are under so much pressure but in our school, we enjoy school and get good grades studying minimally! And we also have the pen and paper system primarily and bringing your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android Tablet is an option and that makes our work even easier. But time managemant is key guys. I do some Homework at school if any is even given. So sorry guys, but be happy guys.

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  2. This year, I though school was going to be much easier for me.. but it isn’t!

    Maybe I just signed up for too many PAP classes & I just can’t handle it, but right now homework is getting to be such a burden for me!
    Last year, the homework was NOTHING compared to this year, This year is brutal. First of all, I have to look at a 23 page slideshow on the history of the Jamestown colony which took me 2 hours alone. Then I have to do this “scientific notation” calculator thing, and guess what? I HAVE NO CALCULATOR? So then, I have to use an online calculator and I have yet to find a good one and complete my work….
    On top of all of that, I still have to fix my lunch, lay my clothes out for tomorrow, and take a shower! I probably won’t even get to bed until 10:00 which is EVEN WORSE!!! I have TENNIS in the morning. Tennis starts at 7:20, which means I have to go to bed at 6:00 and wake up really early. So if I go to bed at 10:00, imagine how sluggish I’ll be in the morning!

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  3. I hate school, I’m killing myself Tommorow. I can’t stand the homework. I’m blame school for my life has gone to hell. Goodbye life.

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  4. I hate school, I’m killing myself Tommorow. I can’t stand the homework. I’m blame school for my life has gone to hell. Goodbye life.

    Like

  5. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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  6. I hate school. I used to love it. I would look forward to it, and I enjoyed it, until about 5th grade. That was when it started taking a slight decline. Being bullied, having a bad teacher, and the work was a lot for a 10 year old to handle. As the years progress, it just gets worse, with the decline getting sharper and sharper every year. I now hate school more than anything. I now hate learning, something I used to love, and have learned that the kids in Africa who don’t get to go to school, are actually the lucky ones. I want to move to Finland so bad! UGH! I hate America, I hate school, I hate learning, I hate reading, and I hate life. Why? Homework. Teachers are not aware of your homework. If they are, why do they keep piling it on top of us? If you genuinely cared about our success, why do you keep hindering it? It makes me so upset that I am related to a teacher. Sure she teaches first grade but still, all teachers are bad and I hate them all.

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  7. I have always hated school, but the work we do in Baku Azerbaijan is not that bad, i mean we do have to do twice as much essays and assessments, then we did when I lived in the USA. I am in my first year of collage now, we still have a lot of homework, but I am learning about what I want to learn about so it really is not that bad, apart from the homework which is so much still. I think i am starting to like school again, but guys please kill yourself just because you hate school and is putting to much stress on you, I think you can make it though.

    TRUST ME, I KNOW YOU CAN MAKE IT >.< O.O @.@ *-*

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  8. I feel you, my teachers give out homework for us to do during break. Aren’t we supposed to be with our family’s on holidays and such. I am in my sophomore year as well, and all of my classes are killing me. Older kids I know just say it gets worse I don’t know how I can handle this much homework. My week starts with homework on the weekends then school on Tuesday-Thursday I have three days to get my homework done plus I have other things besides school to do. My teachers expect that we have all the time in the world and just sit around in my opinion, but I don’t most of my time is spent doing homework.

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  9. well im chase no ones probably gonna see this but im the stupid one of my school i can study for hours but i get no where but when im in a class thats hands on i get it right away but my teachers dont get that in me so i get called stupid always fight with parents telling them i dont understand and they tell me to study i tell them i do but its just been pissing me off to the point i wanna beat people up but i hold it back because i love everyone in my school. but its getting to the point have more then one f so far because i gave up i cant do this its to hard and the teachers dont care everyone doesn’t care but why i commented this is just to get some weight off my chest thanks for time if anyone read this

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  10. Hi sophia,
    My name is Carley and I am a junior in high school. I am currently writing a story for my school newspaper about high schoolers and their obsession with a 4.0, (not a target towards hard working students at all,) and i stumbled upon your article while researching. I myself am a hard working student who takes AP and honors classes, and my current GPA is a 3.8. Throughout my high school career I have been involved in yearbook, newspaper, soccer, lacrosse, ski racing, dancing, singing, guitar, piano, musicals, student council, along with community service organizations and difficult classes. I however, can truthfully say that I love it all. I am extremely social and typically go out on Fridays and Saturdays if my schedule will allow it. I am passionate about all of the sports and activities I do along with the people i surround myself with. I think what I love most about being involved in so many different things is the people I meet. From jocks, to band geeks, to artsy hippies, I love all people and have learned to appreciate the world for its diversity.
    My parents never pushed me to do anything I absolutely hated, however, they do hold high expectations of me, but nothing I wouldn’t already expect out of myself. They are most happy when they know that I have given everything my best effort, and this is what you need to see in yourself.
    You are an incredible, strong, powerful young woman who will go on to do amazing things, but I promise you, when you look back on your high school experience thirty years from now, you will regret it all.

    High school is a place to learn, to gain new experiences, to find people who you love, and things you are passionate about. High school is about having fun, challenging yourself, smiling, laughing, crying and realizing the kind of person you want to be in a world where anything is possible. I know I sound like an insane, quirky person who literally never stops kissing teachers asses and saying to the class, “come on guys, it will be fun!” But I promise I am not. I am just the same as you, a young woman who loves school and puts pressure on herself to be the best, but the best isn’t getting an A, or becoming valedictorian. The best is knowing that if you could go back and change it all, you wouldn’t, because the past has made you the person you are today, and you love yourself, for everything you are and everything you aren’t.

    I genuinely apologize for this random letter that could not have been written any worse. But I want people like you to know that those things you said you loved, those are the things that are important in life. Before you know it your youth is gone, and the dreams that you told yourself would never come true have really passed you by. So make mistakes, cry, laugh, love, and most importantly learn. Learn to love yourself and the things and people that fill your life, because when you do, that is when your life begins.

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  11. I feel ya. I used to love school and learning new stuff, but since I started high school I have no social life and almost no time for my hobbies. I’m not a fast worker so it takes me around 5 hours to do my homework, and since I have a test from whatever subject the teachers decide almost every day, it leaves me with no free time. Sometimes I’m even forced to study all night and live on 2 cups of coffee and a few energy drinks only to pass. My grades are horrible, I’m failing a few classes already but whenever I try to study I just can’t concentrate, I can stare at the pages for hours and still remember nothing after. My family isn’t helping either, they say I’m lazy and that I should study harder, which I can’t because I feel like if I did I’d die… Dying started to not feel like a bad thing anymore, I’ve become depressed and lost interest in everything I used to like. I barely get 4-5 hours of sleep every night, and I have frequent nightmares… Sorry, I kind of changed the topic haha. Anyway, I hope a car hits me and I die because I can’t do this for much longer…

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  12. I’m in 8th grade and I’m failing I gave up with life because my mom and dad and probably my whole family is 24/7 disappointed in me.

    Just to now I’m not alone with have to do so much homework makes me feel so relieved.

    I want to be a writer but I have major writer’s block now.

    I am an advanced student in my school, my school’s is known for have very high levels of intelligence I’m in algebra 1. At my school they give algebra honors, geometry, gems and I think there’s one higher

    So I’m super smart I would probably have at least a solid a or b in each class if I didn’t have homework but I have a big fat Fingers in math, reading , science and history. All my classes are honors or advanced but it’s hard to do all the homework. I have a 38% in my history class, the whole class is home work literally.

    So I have made goals when I was 6 or 7 but now all of them have failed and with this special school I could of done it. My school is a stem magnet and I my mom’s a nurse and I wanted to be a doctor for her or a phycologist but my grades are so bad that’s not going to happen. So I’m going to a high school about technology if I pass 8th grade.

    And I really hate school because my whole life is affected by it so this year I’ve been more depressed than ever and turns out I have depression and when I am in class or trying to do home work I have mental breakdowns and homework headache (it’s a thing).

    But I’ve been looking on the inte net and found out I’m not the only one so I’ve felt better but I still hate I all.

    And I hope you get the help for your problem and show how hard America is pushing there children.

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  13. I’ve been reading all of these and felt so happy that I’m not the only one. The worst thing though for me as a Junior, is that because I am a FLVS student in Florida, my teachers are chill about me getting everything done and instead, it is my parents putting all the pressure on me to get everything done. In fact, they tell me to not let myself burn out by doing schoolwork constantly but then the moment I get off the computer, they are getting on to me about not doing school, to find colleges I want, to find a place to do community service at, practice my driving, go to church, watch my nephew when needed, and multiple other things that make me break down, crying, at night. And once when I told my mom that I was feeling stressed, she yelled at me, saying that I didn’t know what stress was. Then to top it all off, I am the unofficial confident of the family and they expect me to worry and sympathize with their problems. Anyways, I just needed to vent. Thanks for letting me know it’s not just me. πŸ™‚

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  14. I’m in honors in 6th grade and have like 1 to 3 hours a day and I thought that outrageous but this is scandalous and overworking that breaks you down piece by piece till you get feeble in your physical and mental health. This homework just plain takes away your life.

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  15. I hate my homework. I’m sitting right now, in tears because I have to review 21 pages of study sheets. I’m in grade 8 right now and I’m literally dying. I can’t stop crying no matter how much things make me happy. I totally agree with your homework thing and we need this being told to every teacher in North America.

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  16. Being a FLVS student and 50 assignments behind with 4 days left to do my work, I am very stressed. It’s my birthday, and I’m sitting here wailing on my bed about how I want to die, hyperventilating, because the website is down. I love learning, but this is too much.

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  17. i hate school i’ve had panic attacks and i get 3-4 hours of homework on the week ends on good days and i havent had a normal amount of sleep in a while now and i wanna cry and im so ready for this year to be over

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  18. I am in middle school and I have SO much homework with SUCH LITTLE entertainment or reward! I cry so much from all the stress. Did I mention that I have Anxiety Disorder? My friends that don’t have it even agree with me on it. It’s the end of the year and grades have to be submitted, so there’s nothing I can do. My teacher just threw this huge assignment at me with only two days to work on it. I am in an extracurricular activity so this is really hard to manage my time.

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  19. I need help! I am in 8th grade and have so much homework. I am staying up till midnight each night just to get it done. I sometimes dont even have time to play piano, which is what i love. This is insane. I have all 100s, though. It just makes me feel bad when all the other kids talk about sports and hobbies that they do in the evening. Today I told my bedtime to the whole class and nobody is staying up this late. I am in tears and dying. Help

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  20. I get you I am in gate and I have 10 pages of homework for each subject and it is due tomorrow!😐 teachers if you are looking change this!!!😑 I am sooo stressed I am in 4th grade!!!

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  21. I get you I am in gate and I have 10 pages of homework for each subject and it is due tomorrow!😐 teachers if you are looking change this!!!😑 I am sooo stressed I am in 4th grade!!! And tonight I have so much to do it is totally unjust

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  22. I can relate and think this is horrible. I have to memorize 380 words so I can ace a test that decides 25% of this years language grade. This much homework should be illegal. It is not right.

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  23. This is sad to say but I see her story in my life right now and I’m still in Middle School. Please do something soon, I can’t take having 5 hours of sleep each night and having so much work. The teachers give us a week or so to do our projects and sometimes homework, but we still have after-school lives, activities and other homework assignments that are due the next day. I am a straight A student, but meanwhile, I’m tired, stressed and facing so many other life challenges also. I hope all goes well and something happens to lessen or ban the amount of homework we are receiving. Thank you.

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  24. I always find myself having to choose between helping out around the house, completing homework, or paying attention to myself. Mostly every night I end up choosing to complete homework, leaving my chores undone and my body not being cared for. There was a three day time period where I literally couldn’t find any time at all to stop to take a shower. I didn’t want to go almost a week without taking a shower, so it cost me an hour of my sleep. I can’t believe that homework has taken over my life. Last year (9th grade) I rarely did homework. This year I wanted to make a change and I’m now sacrificing so much of my life for the completion of homework. Sometimes, I feel like using 5 minutes of my time to cut an apple for a snack will use up too much time. The longest I’ve stayed up doing nothing but homework was 3 am. I worked from 6 pm to 3 am that night on a science project only to find out it wasn’t due until two weeks later.

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  25. Every time I come home the first thing I do is sit at my desk and start homework. I don’t even take off my shoes or change into my pajamas. I don’t have time. the amount of effort I put into my homework definitely doesn’t show in my grades. I believe that completing homework and actually understanding is it two very different things that school systems aren’t focused on. The system needs to understand what the purpose of education is instead of trying to apply numbers and rankings to students.

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