Fear of school can be an advantage


John Hain/CC BY 1.0

Unfortunately, this “cloud of anxiety” represents how many students feel because of the anxiety school causes them to feel.

Leea Ivanel, Staff Writer

Does fear impact your academic life?


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“What are you afraid of?”

Most people would answer with “death” or “a zombie apocalypse.” However, for an increasing number of high school students, the answer might turn out to be “school.”

This comes as little surprise. After all, we live in a competitive society in which schools push us to do our best. While encouragement isn’t bad — in fact, it teaches us that we should try to be the best versions of ourselves — the constant drive to be as good as possible can take a toll on students.

Speaking from personal experience, the expectation of getting straight A’s, doing extracurricular activities, being a leader, taking all AP classes, having unique talents, and speaking three languages all at the same time just to get into a decently good college is ridiculous. In short, it causes me to live in a constant state of severe anxiety, even when I’m not thinking about school. It also brings about a very real terror of failure.

Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who feels this pressure. Two studies showed that the stress levels of students today are higher than the stress levels of psychiatric patients in the 1950s.

Still, our fear and anxiety regarding school and failure is not all bad — it can be quite practical if we learn how to use it to our advantage.

Fear can be a big motivator to getting things done. The fear of getting a bad grade keeps us from turning in late assignments, which can save our grades and allow us to have more opportunities after high school.

While fear shouldn’t be the only reason we try hard in school, most of us would be unable to keep our grades and studies up just through pure motivation to succeed. However, letting our fear become our sole motivator is dangerous as it could ultimately damage our mental health. A lot of us already have the stress levels of psychiatric patients; we don’t need to make it worse.

Ultimately, we need to learn to balance the fear and anxiety we feel surrounding school. Too much fear is harmful, but too little fear might cause us to slack off, hurting us in the end as well.

We need to find the middle ground in which we use our fear to motivate us while understanding that school isn’t everything. The world doesn’t end when we get a bad grade.

If we don’t, our well-being, as well as our grades, will both continue to suffer.