Have you ever stopped to really talk about how school makes you feel? Dr. Susan Blum, a passionate educator, started the dialogue regarding the issue with many professors pitching in with their own thoughts.

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Key Takeaways

  • There’s is an evident need for balancing strict academic standards with addressing students’ stress and anxiety.
  • The nature of traditional education models is mostly said to be outdated, particularly the excessive class load for students.
  • Personal stories reflect the ongoing high pressure and lack of compassion in education from high school to college, suggesting a need for more empathetic and supportive teaching approaches.

In her recent Twitter post, Dr. Blum brings up something we don’t often think about while students might like their classes, they’re also really stressed out. There’s so much work to do and the pressure is huge. Is it really fair for learners to feel like this during their college years?

She points out that when students seem to be not paying attention or just killing time, they might actually be trying to deal with all this stress. This raised several simple, yet not-so-evident questions: Have the demands of college become too overwhelming, or is it the students who are changing? This discussion brings to the fore differing perspectives on how to strike a balance between academic rigor and student well-being.

Do We Actually Need Standards?

In response to Dr. Susan’s call, Carl Hindy, a PhD and a Clinical psychologist, poses a crucial question: “Have the demands of college changed? Or have the students changed?” He cautions against a “slippery slope of simplifying coursework,” emphasizing the need to avoid enabling a trend of decreasing academic and emotional preparedness in students. This sentiment is echoed by another who believes that anxiety and fear, often seen as negative emotions, can be crucial drivers for accomplishment and learning.

“I wonder if dealing with the anxiety of meeting expectations and deadlines in an academic setting is a positive thing for the development of a learning individual. Anxiety and fear isn’t always a bad thing. It’s often the main reason humans get things done.”

Carl Hindy, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

On the other side of the argument, Dr. Susan Blum advocates for a more empathetic approach.

“We need to teach the actual humans we have in front of us, not mythical perfect students.”

Dr Susan Blum (pronounced BLOOM; Pronouns she/her)

She suggests that if simplification aids learning, it should be embraced. This view is supported by comments highlighting the current system stifles true student engagement and creativity.

The Changing Concept of “Full Load”

In addition, several voices in the debate point out the outdated concept of a “full load” of classes, suggesting that the traditional 12-hour class schedule may be excessive for many. Tying financial aid to being a “full-time student” is seen as unfairly punitive in the current context.

Andrew Kemp, a curriculum and learning designed pointed out that in general, current generation is far ahead of the current education system, which may be one of the reasons with high frustration leveles among leraners.

“I think this generation is way ahead of us. Battery-hen education systems turn students off. True engagement would involve students being able to pursue things of interest to them. We can package education that way, but ‘the system’ has too much inertia.”

Andrew Kemp

The Pressure of High School Preparations & Experience

Reflecting on past experiences, one individual recalls the immense pressure of high school, where the focus was more on achievements and awards than actual learning. This ‘College Prep’ attitude, they argue, seems to have evolved into a ‘Career Prep’ mindset in colleges, further escalating student stress.

The real impact of these debates is most vividly seen in student experiences. One student recalls high school as a time filled with dread, indicating a lack of compassion for young learners. Another recounts the anxiety-inducing expectations and deadlines in academic settings.

“This! When I was in high school like 8 years ago, 6 out of 8 classes filled me with nothing but dread. There’s such little compassion for young people – HS was a very scary time for me and I doubt it’s gotten better (probably it’s gotten worse😓)”


This ongoing dialogue underscores the complexities of modern education. As educators grapple with maintaining academic standards while addressing the emotional and mental well-being of students, the need for a more nuanced and flexible approach to teaching and learning becomes increasingly apparent. The challenge lies in balancing the pursuit of intellectual rigor with the creation of a supportive, engaging, and humane learning environment.

The discussion also clearly highlights the aspect of open professor-student communication. Many teachers have already said to implement a diologue with their students as a part of a studying routine.

“After a memorable off-the-cuff conversation one semester, I made it a part of my teaching to set aside time regularly to just ask my students “how are you doing? How are your classes? What’s affecting you?” It was essential for me to understand how to approach assignments.”

Still, in many classrooms, it’s a notion still unheard of. Thus, aside from paying attention to the workload, it’s important to recognize the emotional side of the communication with students.


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