The summer before junior year is nothing short of a stressful one for most students. With anticipation of standardized tests like the ACT and SAT and the rigorous work of Advanced Placement classes to come once school starts, it seems as though summer should be the last time for all high school students to feel completely carefree before the upperclassmen role consumes them.
But unfortunately, no refuge can be found in summertime. Extensive take home AP assignments lurk in the back of students’ minds throughout the days of summer.
The obligations of essays and research on nice sunny days are not welcome in the eyes of a student. Working a summer job or an internship along with the unwillingness to get into a school mindset makes it difficult for students to see the necessity of summer assignments.
AP classes are notorious for their rigorous workload. All the years of schooling are nothing compared to an AP class – and most students have not had a lot of time to prepare themselves for such a demanding course. Just glancing at the assignment listed for one AP class is enough for students to put their foot down and refuse to look at it again until the last week of summer rolls around.
At the least, a typical AP summer English assignment requires the reading of an entire book, comprehension and annotations of that book, as well as a minimum of two essays – each containing a few hundred words each. Suddenly, a fear of negative judgement from a teacher settles on the student while they attempt to use rusty writing skills during the last week of summer.
Multiplying that stress by three or four times – the equivalent of the typical amount of APs an incoming junior is enrolled in for the school year – is what most high school students all over Evanston, and the country, are dealing with at this moment.
The anticipation of the difficulty in these assignments causes reluctance within students over the three month summer. Teenagers tend to procrastinate on big assignments like these, but pushing aside a massive workload instead of regulating it ultimately causes the most stress above all.
One thing students struggle with so frequently, even while school is in session, is time management. With a different workload assigned on a tight schedule each week during the school year, it can be extremely difficult for students to manage their own assignments over the course of three months with no tight schedule – only the reluctance to do them.
What often seems to be a hard concept for students to grasp is how much these summer assignments prepare a student for the intense classes to come. Furthermore, summer assignments give the teacher who reviews submitted work a sense of what to expect of their students in the upcoming year, and better acquaint them with their skill sets.
This being said, a gap of three months leaves a lot of room for teenagers to switch off a major muscle in their brain that is essential as they enter their junior or senior year if assignments are not being worked on regularly over the summer.
The Washington Post writer Andrea Orr explains in a May 14, 2018 article that a lack of scholarly related exercise for a long period of time, the impact on a student’s mind can have both a short-term and a long-term effect. “Students, on average, lose about two months of progress in reading and math over the summer,” Ms. Orr wrote. “If not addressed, the loss can be cumulative, severely affecting progress and the potential for long-term success.”
The summer assignment course right now is far from ideal, and frankly ineffective. Though the reasoning behind giving work over the summer still remains valid, the way the assignment process is executed must be better organized in order for students to reach the full potential of the learning that is trying to be achieved individually.
Instead of giving students a loose deadline right at the start of school, thus causing teens to leave all their work for the last minute, it seems a more effective way would be to implement smaller deadlines throughout the course of the summer. Although this seems slightly more involved, it does provide more of a structure that would be beneficial in the long run.
Especially when it comes to students taking more AP courses – thus providing a longer amount of time spent on summer assignments – more deadlines for a different part of each assignment can help the student manage their time in a more effective and productive way.
This deadline approach would leave less cramming for each assignment consolidated to the last week of summer and lessen the stress off the student entirely.
It is very important teachers continue to assign work for students enrolled in rigorous classes, because all in all, the benefits outweigh the negatives when it comes to preparation time and the science behind exercising the brain.
Although the stress of summer assignments will not disappear, finding an alternative deadline approach will improve the experience for each student anticipating AP classes as the days of summer dwindle.
Saskia Teterycz is a rising junior at Evanston Township High School and a summer intern at the RoundTable.