There Just Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day

by on Apr.12, 2009, under life

As a senior in high school, it often seems like there just isn’t enough time. Go to school from 7 AM to 3 PM, participate in extra-curricular activities, eat dinner, work 15 hours a week to save up for college, do whatever the family planned, do homework (for AP classes, at that), and have some me-time? Yeah, right.

Every week day I get up at 6:15 in the morning (which some of my friends would say is late, even), eat breakfast, and go to school. While my first class doesn’t start until 7:30, I get there early to have some socializing time/for the convinience of my parents, who drive me to school. I have classes (including lunch, and five-minute passing periods) until 2:50. This includes two AP classes, which are, luckily for me, spread out: on in the morning, one in the afternoon. By the end of this day, I’m pretty mentally exhausted. But that’s not all. I participate in the theatre tech crew at my school. I’ve been a member all four years, and am even getting an award for my work. So, every day after school, I go to the theatre to work on whatever show we’re working on until 5:30/6:00 on normal days. On show days, I usually just stay after school until the show, run the show, and get home around 10 PM.

By the time I get home at 6, I’m pretty mentally and physically tired. Upon getting home, dinner is usually ready, and we eat right away. We’ll say I take… 30 minutes for dinner (it varies… when dinner is ready, etc.). It’s now 6:30 PM (I’ve been awake for 12 hours), and my day isn’t close to being done. I now have to do homework for my two AP classes: AP Calculus BC, and AP Physics C. Some of my friends have more AP classes, but this is my blog, so I’m focusing on me here :-P. AP Calculus has homework every single day. Usually 25 or so very repetitive problems. Sometimes, these problems even have various parts: a, b, c, … The difficulty of the problem, and amount of time it takes me to do, depends on what unit we’re on. The course syllabus said to expect to spend one to two hours on homework each night, so I’ll see 1.5 hours of math homework as a compromise.

It’s now 8:00 PM, and I’ve done my homework for ONE class. First of all, I usually like to get to bed around 10:00, so I can get a good night’s sleep, and wake up… awake the next day. This means I have two hours left in my day to finish the rest of my homework, and maybe have some me-time. At this point, I have to say that I’m lucky: AP Calculus is usually my only class in which I have homework. However, some of my peers often have more homework than this, and I can very easily see myself, on some nights, having another hour or two of homework. Oh, yeah, and I haven’t taken a shower yet… I take a shower before I go to bed.

So, after everything I’m required to do in a day is done, it’s somewhere between 8 PM and 10 PM. As stated previously, I like to go to bed at 10, so this leaves no “me time”. However, even if I’m done by 8, I’m mentally and physically wiped, and just don’t want to do anything. I’ll usually watch some TV, or maybe play a video game. I’d like to do some coding, but I’m usually just too physically tired to work on any programs.

But what about a day where I get in some of those 15 hours a week I work? I go home right after school, because I usually work from 5-10, usually leave at 4:45, and usually eat something before going to work. If I get a ride home, I get home somewhere around 3, which gives me an hour and a half (3-4:30, so I can eat something) to… do homework. Hey! That’s just the amount of time needed for Calculus. Go to work, get home, take a shower, and go to bed about 10:30/10:45… later than normal. On top of this, I’ve only given myself time to do Calc homework, so any other homework I have will have to wait until either my study hall (I’m lucky to have one), or my lunch period (assuming the class is after lunch). Also note that I don’t go to bed at my normal time, and am a bit mentally awake from work, so I’m not able to go to sleep quite at 10:45. This causes me to lose sleep, and be tired the next day.

What about the weekends? Lately, I’ve been working from 10 AM – 5 PM on Saturdays. I like to sleep in a bit on Saturday, and I usually wake up in time to eat breakfast, change, check my e-mail, and go to work. When I get home from work (about 5:15), I eat dinner, then have the night. But, wait… I have homework to work on for the weekend, and I need to take a shower. We’ll say I ate dinner from 5:45 to 6. This gives half an hour to change out of work clothes, and maybe browse the web a bit. I then take an hour and a half for homework, which brings me to 7:30. Woo! Found some free time. Depending on the day I had at work, I may or may not want to go out, or do… anything, really. So, my Saturday nights sometimes consist of laying on the couch, watching a TV or a movie. Even if I do go out, that still doesn’t give me the programming time I’ve been looking for.

On to Sunday. Church in the morning from 10:30 to 11:30. I usually get up in time to have breakfast, check my e-mail, and leave. After church, I have bible study with the church youth group. This lasts until… about 1:00 PM on average. Get home, and if my parents don’t have anything planned for me to do, then… I’ve found more free time! However, some Sundays, there are events with the church/youth group. So, that takes away from some of my time.

So, what’s the point? Why go through all this trouble of typing up my schedule in detail? To prove a simple point that any high schooler could tell you, but parents often forget: there never seems to be enough time in the day. I have friends that stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning doing homework. How they manage to be awake the next day is a wonder to me. We get days off every now and then, but they’re sometimes for holidays, and we fall victim to either work, or the schedule our parents have pre-determined for us. We’re being overloaded, and I KNOW I don’t have it that bad compared to some of my friends.

How can we fix this? I have no idea. Expand the weekend by one day? Year-round school (in which a two-week long break occurs every two-weeks, I believe)? Both lead to longer school years, something which NO teenager wants, and is possibly worse than the current schedule. XKCD has a proposal for adults: the 28-hour day. However, this screws with the body’s internal clock, and cuts the week by one day, so would be very hard for a school to manage. Lighter homework loads? Teachers are usually hard-pressed to teach us everything they need to as-is, so I don’t see this as a viable option. Cutting down on extra-curriculars? I suppose some would say I’m hypocritical. I participate in an activity I enjoy, then complain that I don’t have me-time. However, most extra-curricular activities could not be considered me-time because of the extra time commitment they add to schedules. I also don’t see cutting back on these as a viable option, because they provide the ever-important opportunity to explore new things in high school.

Perhaps, then, this isn’t a problem after all. We have to deal with the time press in high school, so that time presses later in life don’t seem as bad. Prepare for the worst is the goal of high school.

At worst, if it is a problem, it is one with no viable solution. Please, comment if you have one.

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2 Comments for this entry

  • scott

    u lucky bastard, i have three AP classes one being a foreign language i don’t always have homework in it but when I do it sucks, as for the other two i almost always have homework. we could probably get some homework done in calc after the lecture but you and I are always messing around instead, then there’s my solution… only do half the homework then fill the rest in in class, yay procrastination!

  • Nebu

    hey scott speaking for bobby/as a member of tech….it’s a HUGE commitment (and u deserve w/e award u get…where’s mine?) anyway with that and a job i see wat u meant today bobby hm….kinda like that 2 week school 2 weeks off thing personally.

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