Pressure for Perfection

Dowling students discuss the pressures they face throughout the school year


Natalie Thomas

Dowling students’ workload can be represented in one word: stressful

Natalie Thomas, Staff Writer

High school can be some of the best years of your life, but they can also be spent stressing out over being perfect.


To some, almost all aspects of high school are a competition. Who can be the smartest? Most outgoing? Most athletic? Most involved? All of these consume students’ lives.


As college admissions become more competitive in the United States, it’s no longer about being stellar at one thing; students have to be the best at all things, pushing students’ stress over the edge. 


Kate Easter (12) has experienced academic and athletic success while at Dowling, but it has come at a cost. Easter comes home from practice and spends the rest of her night doing homework and studying. On an average day, Easter will do anywhere between one to three hours of homework, depending on her course load for that week. She is one of the many students who has felt pressured to perform at her best. 


A look into what studying looks like for Dowling students. (Natalie Thomas)

“I think that there definitely is a lot of pressure to be perfect. We’re expected to get good grades, play sports, join clubs, and work jobs all while maintaining a social life and good mental health. With only 24 hours in a day, it’s pretty much impossible,” Easter said.


Outside of school Easter, has been a big name on the track and cross country team. Racing at important meets, including Griak in 2018 and State in 2019, Easter faces pressure throughout the season, she has to always be at 110 percent if she wants to help her team  reach their goals. 


Sports are definitely another area where people may feel pressured to do well because they can be very demanding if you want to succeed. As a cross country runner not only do I have to run hard at practice, but I need to get sleep, eat well, and practice other healthy habits. With this on top of school, I sometimes feel stressed out.”

— Kate Easter


Upperclassmen aren’t the only ones who experience competition and the pressure to excel during school. Allie Rutledge (10) is a competitor. Rutledge excels at school, but she still gets stressed out over certain aspects of school, spending the majority of her time focusing on her schoolwork and doing everything she can to prepare herself for her future. 


“I feel like if I don’t do well in a class, I am not trying as hard as I could even if it’s just a really difficult class. It’s also hard for me to accept that others get better grades than me,” Rutledge said. 


Unfortunately, due to a schedule change last year, this year students had a hard change: block scheduling. This is something completely unprecedented for current sophomores as the upperclassmen have experienced block in their beginning years at Dowling. Last year, students had only four classes at a time, experiencing the benefits of the quarter schedule. Having a new schedule this year has left students looking for more of a balance. 


“It’s been hard for me to find a balance this year for sure. A/B [schedule] is new to me so that is hard. And [balancing] the obvious schoolwork, free time, activities and clubs,” Rutledge said.


Finding a balance is hard for everyone. Students are always working towards that college acceptance letter. Owen Weber (12) has done everything he can to stay on top of his goal. Weber has thought about his future a lot, he is a stellar student, a football player, and in band, all taking up most of his time, but he has still managed to keep calm and focus on the goal.  This past year, Weber has found a way to balance all of his extracurricular activities and focus on his future. 


“My college preparation has mainly focused around last year. The main thing that I’ve done is to study hard and take the ACT, which has set me up very well for getting into a good school. In addition to this, I’ve met numerous times with Ms. Gabriel, and now Mrs. Koppes. Taking AP classes has hopefully prepared me for the level that college classes will be taught at,” Weber said. 


As a college prep school, Dowling students are pushed past their comfort levels throughout the school year, but it’s important for students to take advantage of the team they have and look forward to the acomp;lishments that we’ll follow the hard work.


I just focus on trying to take advantage of the time that I have, and try to appreciate it.”

— Owen Weber