What "I'm So Stressed" Looks Like Across The Forms

Nichole Jin ’24 in Features | November 4, 2022

Students at Lawrenceville have the tough task of juggling a rigorous course load alongside significant athletic commitments and extracurricular involvement. How does this balancing act change and evolve over the course of a student’s time here? Sophie Bilanin ’26, Nitza Kahlon ’25, Abigail D’Souza ’24, and Ava Noorchashm ’23 were all asked to share their experiences with managing schoolwork and extracurricular life at various different stages in their Lawrenceivlle careers. 
As a II Former, Bilanin feels that she has the time to participate in a number of clubs offered on campus while still effectively managing her workload and playing on the Girls’ Varsity Tennis team. “Since I only take five classes, I have the time to involve myself in more extracurriculars, so I signed up for a lot of clubs I thought were interesting,” Bilanin said. She is currently a member of the Speech and Debate and the Experiments in Psychology clubs, in addition to writing for Lawrenceville Science Reports and The Lawrence. Even on days when she has a heavier homework load, Bilanin finds that evening study hall gives her “enough time to finish [her] assignments.” This allows her to spend the rest of her afternoons playing tennis and participating in the new clubs she signed up for. “I think [II Formers] have enough time to try new activities without getting overwhelmed by work,” Bilanin elaborated. 
Kahlon, on the other hand, takes six classes while participating both in sports and extracurricular activities. Each year, Lawrenceville students must play at least two terms of interscholastic sports to be granted a sports exemption. In order to obtain an exemption for squash, Kahlon is participating in House Disc this Fall Term. “This [routine] can be overwhelming because on days when I have House Disc, I need to go from disc straight to squash, and that takes up a lot of time,” she noted. With House Disc taking place three times a week, this can be especially challenging on days when she has a heavier workload. However, notwithstanding her busy after-school agenda, Kahlon finds the school schedule to be “rather helpful. I like the Monday schedule because it’s shorter, so everything feels like it’s going by more quickly,” she explained, although she does wish that the lunch period could be longer given that it is cut short by lunchtime consultation. “The time we have for lunch is also short on lab days, and it’s especially harder because [III Formers] have no free periods,” Kahlon said. 
D’Souza views the free period that IV Formers get as having made a “huge difference” in reducing her workload. However, while she has a free period that is always in the middle of the day, she believes that it is more helpful to have a free period towards the beginning or end of the day. This way, students can have more free time “in the morning before classes or before sports.” Additionally, D’Souza believes that III Formers should have free periods as well. “Especially since I was a new [III Former] last year, it was hard for me to adjust to the busy schedule without having a free period…I never really got a break,” she elaborated. 
However, while D’Souza does not have to take six classes, she still has a heavier workload than her III Form year because of the increased difficulty of her courses. “Classes are definitely more time-consuming and demanding, with some being harder than others, but I do enjoy most of them,” she said. D’Souza finds that she often has to “wake up early to do homework” because she has extracurricular commitments in the afternoon and does not have enough time to complete all her assignments during study hall. As a dancer, library proctor, leader of the Catholic Students’ Organization, and a member of both the Girls Who Code club and Girls Who Code community service project, D’Souza has a busy extracurricular schedule to juggle in addition to her schoolwork. “It can be hard to manage, but I’m very passionate about all these activities, and I think Lawrenceville’s extracurricular offerings have definitely allowed me to nurture that,” she said. 
In addition to taking higher-level courses and taking on leadership positions within the School, V Formers also have the added responsibility of working on college applications. For Ava Noorchashm, Fall Term of her V Form year has been the “most stressful” time because of the need to write college applications alongside increased course loads and a higher level of extracurricular commitment. “I co-run two clubs on campus and am a member of the Honor Council, and balancing these with my [classes] and college is definitely hard,” Noorchashm said. 
An upside to being a V Former is having seniority in class choice and flexibility in course scheduling. If a V Former has a teacher from whom they want to request a college recommendation letter, the scheduling office will try to accommodate that change. “For year-long courses, [V Formers] will sometimes cut their class short so they only take it during their fall and winter in order to take something else,” Noorchashm explained. For example, she will be dropping her Honors Government class to take more Chinese courses, as this is what she hopes to pursue in college along with medicine. “I’m happy with the classes I’m taking because I feel that they are helping me both diversify my interests and build a strong foundation for my goals in college,” she elaborated. 
These four students provide insight into balancing the extracurricular and academic aspects of campus life, as well as how this balance evolves throughout one’s Lawrenceville journey.