Opinion | Grading policies lead to burnout, over-prepare students

Fiona Vosper, Staff Writer

Grades are the biggest cause of burnout among students, as well as the most useless part of our education systems. Grades do nothing but distract students from education’s true purpose: learning. 

Intellectual ability is not always reflected in summative assessments. Aspects like creativity, grit, leadership, and consistency are what make up successful adults, not students with a 4.0 GPA. 

“I think it should be 50/50 summative and formative because I put in a lot of hard work into homework and other activities, and they don’t do anything to improve my grade. It feels pointless. I’m not a good test taker but I still know the material which makes me really frustrated,” sophomore Kari Robinson notes.

Grades are a constant focus in students’ minds. ETHS encourages students to take many extra-curricular activities since they are a great way to explore interests and improve your resume. What the school fails to realize is that it is very difficult for students to be involved in extracurriculars when they are being bombarded with work. 

“I experience burnout often, I do dance and classes go really late some days. This limits my time to do homework, which takes a few hours. All throughout practice, I stress about falling behind and my grading being brought down,” Robinson says.“When I’m feeling behind on work it doesn’t motivate me to catch up. Instead, it makes me want to quit, and it feels like no matter what I do my grade will drop because of it.”

According to Springer Link, a study was conducted on students about burnout syndrome and academic motivation. Burnout Syndrome is defined as a “psychological reaction to chronic academic stress.” Within Burnout Syndrome, there are three different types of burnout: exhaustion, cynicism, and efficacy. In a school-related setting, exhaustion can come in many forms, but overall fatigue from school is most common. For example, after school, when I have no sports or clubs I go home and take a nap straight away. 

The buildup of emotion and stress from school often results in tiredness and being unmotivated to do anything. School-related cynicism is often associated with emotional distance from school activities, as well as a loss of interest in school and extracurriculars. Finally, efficacy is defined as reduced feelings of success in school, feeling like you are behind and “not smart enough” for the work that needs to be completed. The study demonstrates that academic burnout leads to a decrease in academic performance, engagement, attention span and important problem-solving skills. In regards to mental health, burnout also leads to depressive episodes and symptoms as well as a general increase in mental health issues. 

Academic burnout is something from which many students suffer and probably don’t even realize. Being consumed by school work and being isolated as a result are not ways to be successful in school, but this is the way that school promotes learning. Instead, students should go out into the world and experience life, make mistakes and learn from them. If a student is being encouraged to hyperfocus on only school, their mental health is guaranteed to be affected negatively.

Over-preparation for the future is always supposed to be a positive thing. Preparation in a school setting is the key to success, but over-preparation is counterproductive and often leads to burnout. The high school encourages students to overwork and push themselves until they hit their limit, and then, once that limit is reached, they push even more. This strategy is completely ineffective and does not reflect the demands of a collegiate-level education.