Students at Mishawaka High School have a lot on their plate. With six to seven hours of school Monday through Friday, extracurriculars, and jobs working students until closing hours, a student’s day can be jam-packed. In addition to this, many upperclassmen are still working on college applications and committing to their future college. While all of these opportunities give students a greater advantage with their life outside of high school, can it be turning into too much?
“How are you tired? I worked all day,” is a common phrase said by many parents to their high school-aged children at the end of the day. It’s true that a student's day is not the same as a parent's average 8-5 job, but there are many similarities when school and extracurricular activities are added into that mix.
MHS Senior Eli Childress said,“I wake up at 5 - 5:30am, and I don’t usually go to bed until around 12am”. They added, “I'm a part of Jazz Band, so I have performances every so often, and I also participate in Pep Band whenever I'm off of work. On top of that, I work about 4 hours a day,16-20 hours a week depending on my schedule with band….Many times, I cannot go to Pep Band due to work. I do not have much time for myself or school work most days.”
Childress is not the only one struggling to balance their schedule; many different students at MHS have a variety of schedules. Junior Lucas Walkowski said, “I usually wake up at around 6:45am or 7am and head out for school. After school, I have about an hour to do homework or projects before work at 5pm. Once I finish work at 10pm, I head home and finish any other work, or I leave time for myself. After a bit of free time, I usually go to bed at 12am.” Walkowski followed up with, “I work about 5 hours a day with 20-25 hours a week. And right now I’m only a part of Marching Band.” The extracurricular is helpful for Walkowski despite his busy schedule because, “[Marching Band] helps me connect with other band members.”
While work is a major part of students' lives, even extracurriculars such as clubs and sports can be a lot for teens. MHS Senior Amaya Cutler said that, “I wake up at 6:45am, get ready for school, and leave my house by 7:30am. I start school at 8am, and then I leave for the Elkhart Career Center at 11:30am. [I] get there by 12pm, where I attend the EMT program. I get out of school at 3:10pm, and have dance practice from 5-7:30pm. After practice, I usually eat, watch Criminal Minds, and do my homework. I usually go to bed around 12am.” While Cutler stated that she does not currently work, she did share that, “I have been a part of the Mishawaka Dance Team for the past three years, and I am also on the prom committee. My schedule is always based around my dance schedule. I had to quit my job to be able to balance dance and school because our competitive season is hectic.”
Many students handle their day-to-day lives differently, choosing to fill their schedules with many different activities, depending on what they are able to take on. A high schooler’s day can be short or long, easy or difficult. The balancing act of a student’s work, school, and home lives can take a big toll on their well-being. Not just physically, but mentally as well.
All three MHS students agreed that they felt some sort of strain somewhere with their schedule. For Childress and Cutler, the strain is more of a mental one. Childress said, “My schedule with work and band takes up most of my time. I'm usually mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day…” Culter, who found herself with an equally demanding schedule said that, “…When I get down time I take advantage of it!”
Walkowski shared a different viewpoint based on his schedule, stating that “Although I only get about an hour or two of free time a day, I would say that I’m very controlled when it comes to emotions and my mental health.” For him,“The hardest part is [maintaining]my physical health. With school and work, I’m usually on my feet all day, which can get especially exhausting later on in the week or on weekends.”