The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

The student news site of Highlands High School

The Hilltopper

Finding Balance: The Key to Success

Kara Laber
Freshman Emma Hood uses organizational strategies to help cope with the stress of exams.

After six hours and forty-five minutes of studying, learning, and asking questions, it is easy to see that students will be socially drained or exhausted. On top of working their hardest to complete their school day, most students also are part of extracurricular activities and must learn to find a balance between the two to avoid extra stress and tiredness. 

With auditions/interviews for the spring musical, winter sports, and midterm exams being so close, Highlands High School students will have a lot on their minds and it is easy for someone to get overwhelmed. However, there are many strategies to balance school work with extracurriculars. Students may ask teachers, guardians, or friends for help, use a planner or reminder app to help them stay organized, and practice coping skills to deal with stress.

Confiding in someone is a great resource when it comes to dealing with stress and creating a balanced structure. With good communication, students and teachers can work out a plan to ensure that the students can get all of their work done while having a busy schedule.

Teacher and director of the shows put on at Highlands, Jason Burgess, says, “My biggest thing is to communicate. Verbalize how you are feeling. It is important to prioritize things but also allowing people to know your thoughts on why you are prioritizing what. I always tell students that I hate surprises, but if you communicate what is going on then anything can be worked out.”

In a situation where a student is not comfortable talking with a teacher about balancing their school work and other activities, a friend or family member can also help. Reaching out to someone could make a world of difference when having anxiety and feeling unbalanced.

Another huge contribution to having a steady schedule is organization. This could mean color-coding a timetable, making sure all work is separated by class, creating a study plan, or simply writing in a planner or journal. 

A study plan consists of a time-management plan that will help students achieve their learning goals. This can be a very useful tool when studying for exams or other tests/quizzes. However, everyone is a different kind of learner. Visual learners may find that color-coding their schedule is more beneficial to them, but reading/writing learners might benefit more from writing out their schedule in a planner. Although it can be frustrating, once students find what helps them stay organized, it will help immensely with balancing their school life with their outside one.

Freshman Madeleine Foster, a student who is currently involved in 11 afterschool activities, shares how she tackles her filled schedule, “I manage stress with exams coming up by keeping my priorities straight and doing more important things, like studying first. I carve out about an hour for myself and I would say that it is quite beneficial to be able to do stuff that I enjoy.”

As Foster pointed out, someone taking time out of their day for themselves is a crucial part of lessening stress. Even if it is only half an hour, studies show that it is extremely important to take time out of your day to do things that you enjoy. 

An article from the American Psychological Association, Study Smart.” points out the benefits of taking breaks throughout the day, “Decades of research have demonstrated that spacing out study sessions over a longer period of time improves long-term memory. In other words, if you have 12 hours to spend on a subject, it’s better to study it for three hours each week for four weeks than to cram all 12 hours into week four.” 

Along with having set time in someone’s day for themselves, knowing strategies to cope with stress can aid some anxiety that comes with long days. One of these strategies is breathing exercises. These are especially helpful when taking an exam. An example of this is the 4-7-8 exercise. This involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding for 7 seconds, and then exhaling for 8 seconds. It creates a breathing pattern which in return regulates airflow and reduces anxiety. 

There are many other strategies to manage stress, however including, pacing properly, pushing through procrastination, reminding why these goals are set, learning to relax, and taking care of oneself. 

Although balancing school life with extracurricular activities is difficult, being involved in after-school activities is very beneficial for a student.  When being involved in these activities there are many ways to manage stress and exhaustion with school work and meetings, practices, and rehearsals. 

 Burgess relays his thoughts on how beneficial it is for students to be involved in extracurricular activities: “Every student needs to be a part of something bigger than themselves. One of the main reasons is to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Secondly, it is important to work on something collaboratively. Something where you have to work with other people, disagree, figure things out, etc. It helps you grow and see different perspectives.”

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