Honored life:questioning the arduous struggle

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In the vast multitude of high schools, specialized classes are offered in order to challenge students academically, brighten their future, and boost their confidence by giving them the coveted title of “honors kid”. Many students take this title, and flourish with confidence and good grades. However, some students are less fortunate. Weighed down by the name “honors kid”, many struggle with the burden that AP and honors classes bring. Yes, many “honors kids” triumph, but some are left in the shadows with emotional struggles searching for motivation.

For those on the outside looking in, taking an honors class simply means spending an extra hour a night doing homework. However, from the point of an honors student, the stress and worry that comes along with more work is just a part of the course.

“It seems like if you aren’t spreading yourself too thin then you aren’t doing it right. I think I do spread myself too thin, and I’m not sure why, besides that it feels like I’m inadequate if I don’t,” Christopher Cordova says. He is enrolled in three honors classes and one AP class at Arvada West. “It also feels like it is expected of me to put everything I am into school, constantly.”

For many, such rigorous courses leave them very mentally weakened and tired. This is especially true for Celia Ernstrom, an honors student since seventh grade.

“School is my life, literally. I definitely throw myself into these classes and receive good grades, but my brain feels so stretched out and overused,” Ernstrom says.

Honors students may tend to have unreasonably high expectations for themselves, which becomes a problem when they receive a less than stellar grade. Many identify their grades in classes with their self worth.

“Getting a bad grade throws me off, and makes me feel like a failure,” Cordova says.    “There isn’t a whole lot that is worse to me than a really bad grade.”

Summer King, a sophomore involved in four advanced classes, feels the same way. She says,

“It changes how I look at myself. I don’t like the emotions that the pressure makes me feel, constantly. Sometimes I feel that these classes aren’t worth it.”

For students like Grace Davis, the pressure of honors classes can cause problems in her family life as well.

“When I get a bad grade, it creates a huge family war. My parents get disappointed and tell me I need to spend more time on my studies, which I don’t want to hear, so a full on fight breaks out, leaving everyone upset,” She says. “It is a constant battle,”

Davis also feels that the honors and AP courses take time away from her passions, such as music, travel, and exercise.

The story for King is the same. She feels that an unfair emphasis is put on academic studies, when music and art is just as important, at least to her.

“I play multiple instruments and I love to paint and write creatively. Sometimes, I feel marginalized because I never get to do these things anymore, due to lack of time. I want a future in these creative outlets, but I have no idea if it is realistic in these days,” She says.

Year after year of these rigorous courses, what is the point? Davis is not even sure why these classes are beneficial, other than the glory that they bring.

“I think taking honors classes is nothing but a confidence boost. They seem to tell you that you are smarter than your peers, and you are put on a pedestal, displaying your ‘incredibly gifted mind’.” She says. “It makes no difference to me.”

Who knows, though? Maybe honors and AP classes can brighten a future, and give one the ideal life in the end. Is the honored life worth it?

Ernstrom says, “If my future turns out how I want it, then maybe will be worth it,”

 

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