Learning From Successes and Mistakes of the First Semester

By Janine Alven and Acacia Edeluchel


Stress is something that all of us experience or have experienced at some point in our life, for some of us, maybe stress is a part of everyday life. Now, while there are many causes of stress, one particularly big one for students at Minarets is the end of a semester or finals. This isn’t to say that the entire student body was ripping out their hair, as stress isn’t always to that degree. Though sometimes it can be and other times, it’s just something small that's been misidentified as some minor anxiety.



Stress isn’t something that comes with an easy fix, and sometimes stress leaves lasting impacts. At Minarets, the week or two leading up to the end of the semester is often referred to as “The Grind” by both students and teachers, as it is during these weeks that students are scrambling to get work completed as well as finals. During this time, some students also have to deal with grade/eligibility checks, sports that can take you out of class multiple times per week, things after school, or sometimes even before, and then, on top of that, there's the COVID-19. If students test positive, they can be taken out of school for a period of time, and that makes it hard to play catch up.


Most students also have lives and activities they are involved in outside of school. It can be hard for them to recognize that sometimes school isn’t the main priority for everyone, and while school is still important, sometimes it's better to take a step back and manage some of the other things in your life.


Since many of us students have been on this “Grind” or experienced the struggle that comes with it. Many people go into the next semester hoping to make a change so they don’t have to experience it again. For most, this doesn’t go as planned. As soon as that second-semester starts, students are right back into the thick of it, with six assignments per class all due before the next class period. That can be discouraging to a lot of students, though there are those who continue to work through the stress and have made a change, trying their best to stick to this new mindset and not fall back into any previous procrastination routines or habits.


Though trying to stick to these new mindsets or routines can also cause stress, as it is no easy task to break old habits, and many students still struggle.


A majority of the students at Minarets have not experienced a full year of high school, and being in this new environment and adjusting to high school and the workload can be difficult. It is easy to just want to push this to the side and play sports, join clubs, or hang out with friends. It is a difficult and stressful adjustment for students to get back into the groove of things. As the last semester ended, students were finally starting to get into a productive routine. Winter Break gave a break from stress, but the downside was that students were immediately thrown back into the thick of things.



With this in mind, it is the last semester for the class of 2022 and the idea of graduation has caused the Minarets seniors even more stress. Many are waiting to hear back from the colleges that they applied to and simply trying to end their last semester of high school on a good note. While these students are planning their next steps, this is the end of not just the time they spent in high school, but what they have been working toward the last 12 years. Many are going to be saying goodbye to the friends that have become a second family and leaving behind where they grew up along with the freedom of being able to have fun and make mistakes that comes with being a teenager.


One senior well acquainted with the stress that the end of a semester brings and what this last semester means is ASB President Jadyn Stafford.


“Yes, stress has definitely changed how I’m looking at this semester. I’m currently taking multiple AP and dual enrollment courses which require a lot of work which has impacted me and caused stress but, I’m also stressed about making time for my friends as this is the last semester of high school" said Stafford.


Though we all experience stress, it is experienced differently by each person and has different outcomes. Since stress is basically a part of the high school experience now, it is best to figure out how to handle it. What works for someone to relieve stress might not work for someone else, which is completely fine, as we are all different people and we all handle things differently.


Student stress and school often go hand in hand. Being piled with assignments and big projects can be very overwhelming and be a major cause of stress for students. This academic stress can actually inhibit students’ ability to focus and be productive. According to the International Journal for Adolescence and Youth, it can also increase students’ risk of developing mental health issues like anxiety and depression. This can create a problematic cycle of stress from school causing students to do worse in school leading to more stress.


How can students break this cycle to reduce stress and improve in school? From all the stress and panic, particularly taking place towards the end of last semester, as unpleasant as it was, it is important to reflect on everything that contributed to it. Habits of procrastination and poor time management are all things majorly contributing to student stress that commonly accumulates and worsens as motivation and work ethic may decrease as the year goes on. However, it’s important to not just accept this fate, but to be proactive, breaking old habits and creating new ones to become more efficient and productive to set yourself up for success.


While you might not be the person to make New Year’s resolutions, it’s important to see this new year and new semester as an opportunity to start out fresh with a clean slate and make plans to create new habits to be successful. Taking a look at any of the mistakes or accomplishments you experienced last semester can be important in being able to create strategies for this semester. This can include making adjustments in your life to reduce major stressors, setting small, attainable goals that will help you stay on the right track throughout the rest of the school year and be successful. Learning what works best for you is most important to creating better habits like time management and self-care to reduce stress. It’s important going into the final stretch of the school year to look for areas of improvement.


Stafford attested to this when she said, “At the end of last semester I was definitely able to stay more on top of work being in person than I did in the second semester last year (. . .) I think that you have to use stress as a motivator more than as a hindrance and instead of getting overly stressed and worried, you should actually try finding a solution and committing time in order to make things easier on yourself.”


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