Sometimes, the world seems to be asking teenagers to excel in everything: from academics, to extracurricular activities, to sports. Thus, life begins to evolve into a balancing act, a careful partition of time.
In terms of education, many teens attempt to impress colleges by decorating their schedules with eye-catching Advanced Placement courses and the most rigorous of electives. Due to the competitive nature of undergraduate admissions, the students seeking acceptances to the top tier colleges have no other choice but to overload their already-strenuous schedules.
For those offered entry into the college of their dreams, the hard work has paid off. Richard Montgomery senior Justin Pan said, “I believe that AP and IB coursework has definitely paid off in my college applications because the colleges see that I am ready for rigorous courses. Now, I have the privilege to attend either Carnegie Mellon University or Cornell University this fall.”
However, many also take AP and IB courses to enrich their education and to push their critical thinking skills; the results have been satisfying. Richard Montgomery senior John Jeang stated, “IB physics has opened me up to world applications for the material we learn in class. I like it because it teaches innovation more than it does the test.”
Amazingly, the rigor of such courses has not interfered with Jeang’s extracurricular record. Eight times a week, he trains at the pool, often swimming for over two hours per practice. Last month, he was in Orlando for a week, competing at NCSA Junior Nationals, without letting his grades slip.
In addition, Montgomery Blair senior Maria Yang, a nationally-ranked competitive figure skater, said, “While Blair gives a lot of difficult homework, I manage to sneak in training time and travel to big competitions. When I can accomplish great things in both, I know that I deserve it, because I have worked for it.” To train and finish schoolwork is difficult, but when it happens, that sense of pride and victory is irreplaceable.
The various extracurricular activities of teens, ranging from competitive sports to competitive mathematics, attract colleges’ attention but also provide a stress outlet for schoolwork. Harvard University competitive figure skater Christina Gao once stated in an interview that school distracts her from skating while skating distracts her from school.
The aspect of extracurricular activities as a coping mechanism for stress is not uncommon. BCC freshman and hockey player Mimi Grove stated, “I enjoy playing hockey because when I hit the ice, I don’t worry about all the work that’s due [in] school. School brings on a lot of stress on me and hockey is somewhere where I can just clear my head.”
In the midst of rigorous academics and intense extracurriculars, teens often find peace in their hectic schedules by balancing them against one another. For many, the hard work pays off, whether it means an acceptance letter, a gold medal, good memories, or even personal pride.
Article by the MoCo Student Staff Columnist Yueyang Ying of Richard Montgomery High School