By JENIBELLE HSU
Behind every college acceptance letter, there are late nights and hard work.
However, for every big dreamer, seeing the simple “Congratulations!” is truly worth all the time and effort.
From the first day of kindergarten, parents and teachers have recited inspirational “hard work pays off” speeches, driving us to go beyond our potential and pursue our dreams. The biggest dreamers often take this adage to heart, speeding down the highway to success and rarely stopping to rest.
The problem arises when students never stop working, then end up having no free time and constantly thinking about school. In the long run, these workaholics become less productive and motivated, damaging themselves and their futures.
For example, a study conducted by a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business found no evidence supporting that employees who worked 80 hours a week accomplished more than those who worked fewer hours. Though no high school student spends such long hours for school, many can attest that after pulling late-night studying sessions consecutively, students may not be as productive nor attentive during class.
Yet the overworked student is often simply fulfilling their many responsibilities, and assuming that overworking is the only option. Considering today’s competitive atmosphere, the top students overload their schedules to keep up with each other, while “average” students adopt the same strategy to improve their rankings. As a result, workaholism spreads like wildfire.
Nevertheless, many adolescents jump on the bandwagon, blind to the consequences. Chronic stress can cause anxiety and depression that may persist beyond high school, roughening the transition into college and the workforce. Additionally, a 2014 survey from the American Psychological Association suggests that overworked teenagers have weakened immune systems, increasing the risk for viral infections, such as the cold, and cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, working to the point of burning out is not worth it, especially not in high school. More often than not, workaholics fall behind their goals, as they spend more time stressing than doing. Even when they can relax, they daydream about their to-do list. The rule of thumb is that students should not burn out in the calm before the storm and miss the chance to enjoy their adolescence, because ultimately, overworked students expend their energy for meager earnings.
When these “superkids” become trapped in their own worlds, they distance themselves from friends and family. On the surface, social isolation is a small price to pay to earn that A in a difficult class, but these workaholics waste precious time that could be used to recharge their brain, quell their fight-or-flight instincts or satisfy equally-important, non-academic duties.
Eventually, jaded, sleep-deprived students do work for work’s sake. After a long day, they only think of working harder the next day, until they achieve . . . what? In the end, they lose their enthusiasm and ambition to reach their dreams, tumbling into disillusionment and despair as they fall behind their unrealistic expectations.
Although fewer than eight percent of high-school graduates took more than five Advanced Placement (AP) classes in their high-school careers, and fewer than five percent took more than seven APs, do not let the numbers mislead you. Everywhere you see, there are students taking AP classes on top of extracurricular commitments. As the workload grows year by year, most college-bound students do not know if they will ever stop working. Just within our school, sleep deprivation and anxiety from school work are prevalent, so the risks of a workaholic lifestyle should not be underestimated.
Though there are no “stop” signs on the road to success, we must recognize when to stop in order to balance work and life efficiently. Take a quick nap after a long day at school, or have a midnight snack during a late-night studying session. When it is time to get back to work, at least you are not hungry.