Homework is like the tides. Sometimes it is unpredictable and scary, but there is a distinct pattern of periods of almost unmanageable homework followed by periods devoid of work. Many of us have experienced this vicious cycle and are left grumbling at the onslaught of homework set forth by all the teachers at seemingly the same time. An increase in homework is to be expected near the end of each semester, but this phenomenon takes place throughout the whole year.

Although it’s not their intention, it seems to many students that their teachers to place all of their tests and project due dates at the same time. It is no secret that the average teenager does not get as much sleep as they should every night (around 8 hours), and that this habit is not lessened by the need to stay up to try and get a little bit more done on each of their multiple projects. A lack of sleep is often responsible for the inability to concentrate, stay alert, or perform well on tests. It’s ironic to be staying up late to study for a test, only to be disappointed by the performance on the test due to the mental stupor brought on by lack of rest. It is a perpetual cycle that only gets nastier as grades increase. Needless to say, it is this vicious cycle that is driving today’s teens into sleeping later more often.

Inevitably, these tempestuous weeks are followed by long periods of relative calm. The teachers are busied with marking the work just handed into them, and students settle into a false sense of ease. With a deficiency of work to do, most people find ways to kill all the time between school and bedtime. However, during these reprieves, most students make one fatal error. They stay up just as long as if they had been doing schoolwork. Perhaps they’ve already found good ways to work with the dark circles, or perhaps they’ve grown to like watching the sun rise at 5 am. Although catch-up naps may be fairly common, few students take the opportunity to return to a regular sleep schedule. Students come to school just as tired, but this time it is not the homework to blame; it is their own poor choices. Sleep has become a thing only for the wee hours of the morning.

This dilemma of is a result of the mounds of homework caused by unfortunate timing (although procrastination can also be to blame) and a stronger effort is needed for more students to succeed at a level they are capable of achieving. A new plan is necessary, one that will reduce the stress on students. For example, a process of allocating due dates per class can be used. Classes that take place in the morning, excluding period 1, must have the due dates of projects or test dates fall in alternating weeks. Similarly, afternoon classes must have their major due dates on opposite, alternating weeks to ensure that many due dates do not clash. Effectively, classes in periods 2 and 3 will have due dates on weeks nn+2n+4 and so on while classes in periods 4 and 5 will have due dates on weeks n+1, n+3, n+5 and so on. Classes that take place in period 1 will have the option of either following the schedule of the morning classes of the afternoon classes. This must be done so that a student with spare second or fourth period will not have three classes’ worth of due dates in one week and only one class’ due dates the following week. Further modifications may be made depending on the workload for each course, and a specific schedule can be tailored for each student. Clearly, this method requires more effort on the part of teachers and the administration, but it is needed to ensure that students can achieve their potential.

Success in high school is dependent on the effort students invest in studying and understanding material. Without adequate sleep, students simply are not able to perform to the best of their abilities. The deviations from a healthy sleep schedule only become more profound throughout the many years of high school, encouraged by the pattern of weeks of homework followed by weeks of free time. Administration and teachers must also play their parts in helping diminish this negative compounding effect. As students are given guidelines on assignments, there must be guidelines that protect students from this perpetual cycle. It is only fair that students are given their best chance at success, and we must all play our part.

workload distribution

Illustration: Lila Huang


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