How does a student’s homework load affect their mental health?

By: Grace Blumer-Lamotte

Throughout a student’s high school years, freshman (9th), sophomore (10th), junior (11th), and senior (12th), they will experience some type of stress, whether it be physical or mental. It can also vary if they are experiencing other things outside of their academic life. 

Some ways that stress affects the brain is by shrinking the prefrontal cortex. According to Touro, “Chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. While stress can shrink the prefrontal cortex, it can increase the size of the amygdala, which can make the brain more receptive to stress.” 

A few symptoms of stress to the human body include a headache (referring to the image provided), exhaustion, sleep deprivation, stomach problems, and weight loss. 

The grade that the student is in normally depends on the homework load. Every grade is different. All grades have important tests or other events going on. Especially juniors. Juniors commonly have to take the ACT during the year. 

When students get more homework, they are generally a lot more stressed out. At Highland, we currently have 7 classes a day: 4 core classes and 3 electives. If every class gives you homework, that is a lot of homework in one night for the student. 

I interviewed 4 students. One from each grade. I asked these questions:

  • How many hours do you spend on homework a night?
  • How does your homework load affect your mental health?

The freshman answered, “I usually spend an hour and a half or until I eat dinner. My homework load can affect my mental health greatly. I hardly ever have time to do anything I actually enjoy anymore. Whenever I procrastinate it gets even worse.” 

The sophomore answered, “I spend only around two hours on homework at night. Since I don’t have much homework, it doesn’t really bother my mental health.”

The junior answered, “I spend around two to three hours on homework if it is an easy night. If it is a hard night, I spend around four to five hours. The homework load destroys my mental health. On weekends, when I don’t have homework, I am extremely happy. But when I do have homework, I relate to the senior. I have no energy to do anything else afterwards.” 

The senior answered, “I spend no hours on homework. I finish most of it at school. But put into account that I also have 2 study hall hours. I’d say when I do have homework at home it’s the most draining thing ever. Once I am done, I have no energy to do anything else.”

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