How to: Surviving the end of the school year


Credit: Aimee Smith

For many students, the end of the school year is the hardest part of the year to get through. Finals and big deadlines tend to sneak up on students when their attention is shifting to summer plans. However, many students and staff have solutions to cope with their lower motivation levels in these higher pressure times.

Aimee Smith

While the sun shines and beaches begin to open, students are trapped inside completing the large amounts of assignments and final projects due at the end of the school year. Even though the school year is ending, the amount of coursework at Wayland High School has not slowed, and many students are struggling to keep up with it as their attention shifts to their summer plans.

This lapse in attention causes many students to lose the necessary motivation to complete their school assignments at the same quick pace as earlier in the year. As such, students have begun developing and depending on various strategies to keep up with all the assignments and studying.

“I had more energy [in the beginning of the year], but now, towards the end of the year, I’m really anticipating summer,” sophomore Abby Wrentmore said. “I’m ready to leave [school], so I have less energy to keep up with the quicker pace [of classwork].”

However, students aren’t alone when it comes to a lack of motivation as June begins. Many teachers have noticed their students struggling and are working to create a successful learning environment even as students and staff alike begin to think about their summer plans instead of school.

During a poll, 89.8% of all 147 Wayland High School student respondents reported that they have noticed a drop in motivation when it comes to completing their coursework in school. (Credit: Aimee Smith)

“I also really sympathize [with the students],” history teacher Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer said. “My brain is definitely shifting in the direction of the exciting things that I’m going to do [this summer]. And sometimes it’s hard for me to focus on school and finish up too. I try to respect [students who are struggling] and try to draw people into conversations and just try to make sure to check in with students a whole bunch.”

Although teachers are working to keep students on track, it isn’t just their responsibility to make sure everyone is putting in their best effort as the school year wraps up. There are many strategies that students can use to get themselves back into a positive mindset for completing school work.

“[One strategy] is just focusing on the goals that students set for themselves for the year and trying to keep those in mind as they head into this last push,” guidance counselor Sara Bodi said. “I think there’s also that last rallying feeling at the end of the year of, ‘Okay, one more big exam, one more big paper and then I get that big reward [of summer break].’ So also keeping that sort of mentality.”

Unfortunately, many students are struggling to keep a positive mindset because of the stress from finals and big projects in their classes. Especially since midterms and finals have been canceled for the past two years, this will be many students’ first experience with a large cumulative assessment.

Earlier this year, Wayland Student Press Network published an article on teachers’ expectations for what form the finals will be. If students are stressed about what finals are going to look like, this article could provide them with a better understanding. However, teachers will also be working with students in the coming weeks to prepare for any big exams or projects.

During a poll, out of 143 Wayland High School student respondents, 23.1% of students reported feeling very nervous for finals, while 10.5% of respondents are confident for finals. (Credit: Aimee Smith)

“I think there’s been a feeling of anxiety throughout the year just because when you don’t know what to expect, or how to study or it’s just sort of unfamiliar. [It] can be anxiety provoking,” Bodi said. “Teachers know it’s the first time many of our students are taking final exams, [so] they’re going to prepare students to have everything that they need to be ready to take those tests. Also, the staff is going to provide lots of support, and study sessions and all that good stuff.”

Many believe that it is also important for students to not overwork themselves at the end of the school year because it could end up doing them more harm than good.

“Make sure that you’re getting lots of sleep and you’re eating healthy and you’re making good choices so that you’re mentally feeling at your peak when you go in to take those tests,” Bodi said.

While it might feel like students need to be studying every second of the day to get a good grade, it is important to recognize that students’ grades don’t always accurately reflect their abilities.

“It never made a ton of sense to me that people would take a full schedule of APs and try to get the same high grades and all of them,” Cheeseman-Meyer said. “I mean, when would they sleep?”

Even if a student receives a bad grade, they will have other opportunities in life to make up for it. It is important for students to be trying to balance their interests with other coursework. For example, if a student has a class that they are struggling in more, that student should be trying to focus on preparing for that class even though it potentially means giving less effort to a class they’re already confident about.

During a poll, 58.4% of the 149 Wayland High School student respondents reported having experienced a drop in their grades due to a lack of motivation. (Credit: Aimee Smith)

Beyond time for studying, it is important to also make time for students to fulfill their personal interests. After students have graduated, most of them will no longer be concerned about one bad grade they got. Instead, the things that will matter to most of them are whatever they’re passionate about.

“Is the most important thing getting into a college like Harvard or Yale, or is the most important thing pursuing the things that make us feel fulfilled and make us feel like we’re doing something meaningful?” Cheeseman-Meyer said.

However, some students might have difficulty with choosing what to prioritize. If a student is struggling to keep up with course work or feels overwhelmed, the school has many resources to help them if they ask for it.

“Always speak up if you need help,” Bodi said. “Whether it’s about the stress, feeling overwhelmed, academics you are trying to manage or trying to study things that you’re not sure about, whatever it is, it’s on your mind. Tell somebody. Tell your teacher, tell your counselor, tell your parents, so that we can help you make a plan. We’re here to help.”

As the school year begins to come to an end, it is important for students to keep putting forth their best effort in classes, and to ask for help if they are struggling with certain aspects of school. However, it is also important to remember that students have a life outside of school, and that sometimes stepping back and prioritizing mental health and personal interests can be just as important as completing an assignment.

“I would recommend finding a healthy balance between the different aspects of their life,” Wrentmore said. “I think that you need to push yourself, but not to the point of breaking. And I’d also just say, you know, summer’s coming up, so do your best because you’ll have a while to rest and recover.”