Need Advice: High School Junior Burning Out

<p>Hello CC community,</p>

<p>I am seeking advice on how to regroup and finish Junior year off on a strong note. I have always been a good student (4.0/4.5 gpa) but now find myself burning out rapidly as Junior year pushes on. I have overwhelmed myself. I'm taking 4 APs, 2 honors, and one regular class this year, my most rigorous course load thus far. I'm practicing two hours daily for the school musical, I'm in the Model UN, competing in FBLA, running a club and a non-profit... the list goes on. </p>

<p>But I'm EXHAUSTED. I'm getting two hours or less of sleep a night, and I can barely stay awake through the day. While I have A's in my other classes, I currently have a C- in my only regular class (gpa suicide). </p>

<p>Ultimately, I'm feeling like a failure and starting to get discouraged. I'm working so hard and not seeing results. Most of my friends are at the top of the class and think highly of me, but I'm questioning if I even belong among them. </p>

<p>My teachers are beginning to hate me because I'm always chasing my tail to keep up with course work. I'm crying at school because I can't handle the stress. My self-esteem is dwindling, and lately I find myself wondering if I will even make it through high school. </p>

<p>I can't drop any classes at this point. I'm at a loss as to how to push through this semester and redeem myself. Any advice or shared experience is greatly appreciated.</p>

<p>You need to stop some extra curriculars ASAP. Nothing is more importante than your health. I started off junior year crazy busy to the point that I was also getting around two hours of sleep, but there comes a point where it's insanity. It's not worth it. I now go I bed by 1 no matter what, so I always get six hours of sleep minimum. Setting a deadline like that will force you to work efficiently. But you can't keep everything up. It's not as important as you think it is. Stop volunteering for a while, drop a couple clubs, maybe even the musical. It doesn't mean you're not going to get into college. Because at the rate you're going, you're not going to be able to keep all the balls in the air.</p>

<p>Parent here, and I completely agree with alwaysleah. Those are all wonderful ECs you're doing, but you are only one person, and you only have 24 hours in a day. Time to make some tough choices and lighten the load. Otherwise, you'll crash and burn, and how will that help your college apps?</p>

<p>As a high school senior, I'm probably in the wrong forum but I'd also advise you to drop some extracurriculars.</p>

<p>During my junior year I got around 7 hours of sleep every day (4 APs, 3 Honors). This year, I'm getting around 6 (6 APs, 1 Regular). I am currently experiencing burnout on SIX hours of sleep while you are only getting TWO, so it's definitely not worth it. If you're already burning out like this right now, just think about what's going to happen your senior year, when you'd also have college apps to worry about and all your classes would be AP classes.</p>

<p>Extracurriculars are not everything. I have mediocre ECs but nevertheless was accepted ED by Penn, partially (I believe mostly) because my academic record is excellent. Your health is more important for your long term goals, and burning yourself out will only make you disillusioned about school and start hating your classes.</p>

<p>Are you absolutely sure you cannot make any schedule changes? Perhaps you can take an incomplete in one of your classes and finish it up in summer school or next year. (Especially that regular class where you're getting the low grade.) Go see your guidance counselor and find out what your options are!</p>

<p>Last year (junior year) first semester I made the mistake of too many ecs. I ended up in the hospital and er, and cost my parents a fortune and also missed a month of school.</p>

<p>Health is THE most important thing. Drop ECs ASAP. Then you will find the courseload much more manageable.</p>

<p>Drop every EC that you possibly can. Today. Maybe keep the ONE that means the most to you personally. Don't keep the EC that you think colleges will be impressed by, but keep the one that you love, the one that gives you joy, the one that you would miss. (Although even that one should go if keeping it will prevent you from getting 8 hours of sleep for the rest of the year.)</p>

<p>In the end, a lot of the running around and EC "gathering" that happens in high school is relatively meaningless in terms of college applications.</p>

<p>Just a bit of advice, colleges do not want to see a laundry list of EC's that you were in for a year. They want to see that you started freshman year in a few EC's, stayed with them all 4 years and over the years progressed in the leadership.</p>

<p>Most parents I know limit their kids to no more than 1 "full-time" activity--something that meets every day and then possibly a couple "part-time" ones-meeting one or two days/week. In your case, do the play and one other thing and drop everything else. It's NOT worth killing yourself to get into Harvard.</p>

<p>I'm assuming you can't change your academic overload so yes, you need to limit yourself to the one EC you love. It's tough to learn how to balance your class schedule with the other things in life so consider yourself lucky that you are learning this early!</p>

<p>Agree with everyone else: drop the ECs.</p>

<p>What is your passion? Focus on that, and forget the rest. If you are doing these things just so you can get into a 'good' school, it's time to reconsider. Think about what you love to do, focus on that, do your best in school, and let the rest take care of itself.</p>

<p>I'm going to tell you to tough it out and stick with what you're doing. I damn near killed myself working during junior year with 3 seasons of varsity sports and all of my schoolwork but it paid off when I got into school. This will all be worth it come next december/april.</p>

<p>Those are too many ECs. Both of my kids did very well with only two things they did in school (Older son Academic Team and Sci. Olympiad - the latter was always over by March when they got to states but didn't make Nationals. Younger son did Orchestra, and Sci. Olympiad and was on the Literary Magazine at a very untimeconsuming level.)</p>

<p>Drop the ECs until you get this straightened out; don't keep even one. It's okay to have a hobby but not if your time on it is scheduled by others; that would kill its value.</p>

<p>It is really, really difficult to think clearly when you are so exhausted. I would suggest that your first step would be to take one day at the weekend, just one, cancel everything you can and just sleep. The sky will not fall because you miss one day. Then, when you are a little more rested and can think more clearly, you can assess your committments. As others have suggested. </p>

<p>You are not a failure, you are not less intelligent than your friends, you are just doing too much and have exhausted yourself. Of course you are not seeing rewards for your hard work, because you are doing that work in such a diminished state that no amount of trying can compensate.</p>

<p>Think of it like this - imagine you are an athlete who is going to run the 100m. You are a good athlete, you work hard and you have easily run times that should win you this race. Before your race, you get a good night's sleep, eat a nutritious breakfast, and stroll down to the track feeling relaxed, confident and happy. You're fast, you're sharp, you win the race! Now imagine you are that same athlete, but before the race, instead of getting a good night's sleep, you have to run a marathon...</p>

<p>Time to prune! Success in life (not just college admissions) comes not just from what you do but also what you strategically decide NOT to do. More is not better. Focus on quality vs. quantity. </p>

<p>Some ways to look at what to prune: what have you invested the most in over the years? what do you most enjoy? what are you really good at? </p>

<p>Obviously stick with the musical and, then just 1 (or at most 2) things that you do really well and that refuel you. </p>

<p>This might sound tough but if you don't do this you will end up being unable to do any of it. Your health and wellbeing come first.</p>


<p>My son is experiencing tremendous burnout too.</p>

<h1>1 - See your School Counselor!</h1>

<p>My son also is beyond the point of dropping a course, but many students expressed the burnout to the counselor, enough that my son's school is tweaking some of the schedule. It won't fix the issue, but these schools need to guide students better before approving the course load. The school cannot know the course load is too much without input from students. </p>

<p>See your teachers. Can they allow you to skip some busy work assignments if you can show you understand the materials?</p>

<h1>2 -- Dropping the ECs only will not relieve your stress. If you are truly vested in the EC, you'll still be thinking of it in the back of your mind. BUT - DROPPING THE EC is the ONLY part of your time schedule you can control right now, so take control. No guilt. No reflection on how it looks to colleges or others.</h1>

<h1>3 - SLEEP. My son had the worst sleep schedule. 3 hours during the week, then most of the day Saturday. You cannot catch up on sleep. He has finally began taking melatonin each night. He is now getting 6 hours/sleep a night. It has not worked any miracles in the grade department, but his mental state is MUCH better. His emotions are not fluctuating at the rate they were. Without the melatonin his mind could not calm down enough to even fall asleep. Commit to just 1 week of 6 hours/sleep per night no matter what is still outstanding. After a week, I know you will feel results.</h1>

<h1>4 -- Playing an instrument his calmed my son. I attribute this to the fact it uses both sides of the brain. I would recommend you continue to play daily, but definitely trim it down to 30 minutes instead of 120 minutes UNLESS you plan to be a professional musician.</h1>

<h1>5 -- keep a journal. Jot down your stress and frustrations for 10 minutes/day and let it go.</h1>

<p>This could be a very good topic for college essays. You have found that you are human and have limits. Getting through this time is teaching you very much about yourself. That is why I feel the journal is important. Reflect back & do not let your self get into a position like this in the future. That doesn't apply to just school. New moms, especially working moms, experience this too. Your are human. You are smart. You are talented. You are not perfect. Respect the limits of your body and the limits of the clock.</p>

<p>Drop some ECs, get more sleep, and get your priorities in order. I keep reading that schools want to see two or three strong ECs, and not nutty "I'm in everything" EC pursuits. If you're not a troll, and getting only two hours of sleep, then you're setting yourself up for a health crisis.</p>

<p>I agree with everyone who has said to drop some extracurricular activities. Your physical and emotional health have to come first. There are many, many good colleges out there, and most aren't going to require you to risk your health to get in them.</p>

<p>Thank you so much to everyone for all of the advice! It is very much appreciated. I am going to try to simplify my life. :)</p>

<p>You made me smile. :)</p>