A Better High School Environment for Teenagers’ Happiness

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Happiness is a feeling that can’t be defined because it’s lived and felt different from a person to another. But according to the reading; “Have You Renounced Pleasure?” From The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams; happiness can be defined as a long or short state of fulfilment and joy. Many factors can have effects on someone’s happiness such as the environment, climate, and conditions. Teenagers usually qualify their high school years as the worst and as a teenager I found a link between the environment and unhappiness in high schools. From that I came up with my research question which is “what is the best way to make high school a better environment for teenagers?” and from that, I came up with two main solutions that are; making changes on the classes structure and giving psychological support to students in schools. But before getting into those solutions we should understand more about what’s making teenagers unhappy about that environment.

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What is the high school environment?

According to the Meriam Webster dictionary an environment can be defined as “the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded”. So it would be logical to say that the high school environment is just the school where we study with the teachers and some classmates. But in reality it is much deeper than that. Because that environment is divided into two levels; the physical one which is the actual environment where we be having classes, and a virtual one where we might not be physically but we still think about it or think about things that are related to that place. School is in general qualified as a second home, first because of the time students spend their; second because of the relations people get from it and third because of its impacts on teenagers’ behaviour at home.

So we can easily understand how important that environment is but also all the different factors that impact on it. From that, we will get to understand how high school environment affects teenagers’ happiness and, what are the possible solutions to that issue are.

The perfect school doesn’t exist

On a side the environment of high school is said not to be the real issue with the unhappiness of students because people think that “the perfect environment does not exist” and that the unhappiness of teenagers about high school is more related to puberty. But if we take into account the different issues we will go through such as “high school stress, social pressure among students” we can see that those issues do not have anything to do with puberty and mostly focused on the environment. It is true that the perfect environment does not exist because people are different in their needs but it is possible to make changes in an environment for everyone to feel more comfortable

High school stress

High school is, first of all, an institution where individuals come to get a formation and learn new things but it’s also structured as a small society because it’s a place where many people from a different age, sex; social classes and belief meet to live together during hours every day. And like every society; there are inequalities, with people with more abilities to survive while others tend to be the wicker. And that’s where that environment starts to be qualified as toxic. It is shown by the national centre for education statistics that “Nearly 1 in 5 students (21%) report being bullied during the school year, impacting over 5 million youth annually “and that “Students who experienced bullying or cyberbullying are nearly 2 times more likely to attempt suicide” students get bullied for a different reason but the most common one is known to be the religion, the sexual orientation or the skin colour. That brings students not to feel comfortable in their environment but also to stress on the look people have on them and the eventual problems of those small differences in the way of being, dressing and thinking might bring.

One of the other things that affect teenagers’ happiness in high school is the stress that places provide like it has been mentioned in the teds talk “raising happy teenagers one of the main reasons for teenagers unhappiness is unrealistically high pressure to perform. Sometimes, high school students get an assignment that is not over their capacities but that makes them think that because of the short among of time given. But that is not where the real problem is, teenagers every day are facing judgment, comparison, and critics on how their work is done or on marks. The real source of that stress is that feeling they are never doing the right thing. Sometimes teachers focus more on how a student could get a better mark instead of thinking about why does that student didn’t get the wanted grade. And all of these are stress factors that play a role in the unhappiness of students in high schools. That environment is qualified as toxic simply because the student does not feel as secured and understood as they imagined before getting into it.

Association of that environment with something bad

Association according to the Encyclopedia Britannica is the act of remembering or recalling any experience would also bring to the fore other events or experiences that had become related, in one or more specific ways, to the experience being remembered. It has a lot to with teenagers’ unhappiness about high school because all those bad experienced that happened in the same environment which is high school make those individuals incautiously associate it with something bad. But that association, can be changed by making some modifications in that environment to help teenagers have a better experience. Like in “The Happiness Project,” from T: The New York Times Style Magazine by Andrew O’Hagan which mostly focused on creating a specific environment that would bring people to take it as an example of happiness. For that; I came up with a couple of solutions to make a better high school environment for teenagers’ happiness and finally destroy that association of high school with something bad.

Making changes in the class structure

Making changes in the class structure is one of the solutions I found to this issue, and knowing that a structure is everything that physically or virtually made up something divided into three parts; that are having later school start, having activities between classes and making physical changes on the actual environment. What does a later school start would change about the unhappiness of teenagers about high school? Teenagers may have a bad reputation for staying up late, sleeping in, and sleeping longer than any other demographic, the science shows that it’s not their fault. According to an article from BBC Worklife; “Biologically, teenagers have a different circadian rhythm to people of other ages. Their internal body clock, which tells them when and how long to sleep, doesn’t line up well with the norms of the social clock.” Which briefly explains that the common school start hours don’t match with the sleep schedule of teenagers and that leads to a lack of sleep that affects their physical abilities, but also their mental health. Having a later school start would increase the students’ performance in school but help in the reduction of stress and mood swings. I think that making changes in those hours would help teenagers feeling better at school. But another way to increase that feeling could also be having activities during classes because according to a French health website “top santé “after 25mn the attention given to work or explanation starts decreasing. So could you imagine how hard it is for teenagers to stay concentrated during 2 hours on some teachers’ explanations; having breaks during classes with activities like mediations would help increase the teenagers’’ capacity to concentrate but also help to release and have a more stable mental health. When I talk about making changes in the class structure I also talk about physical changes. If we consider the idea of the article “The Happiness Project,” from T: The New York Times Style Magazine by Andrew O’Hagan the idea of creating an environment that would affect the perception of happiness is possible. The school will always be that institution that is made for training students and make them ready for the future. But making changes in the physical environment of high school by changing the way students sit in class or including them in the decoration of their environment would help them to feel better in it.

Psychological support for students

Psychological support is the second solution I came up with for multiple reasons. Like it has been mentioned earlier high school is at the source of so many things that can affect the mental illness and stability of a teenager and that is one of the reasons why that environment is associated with something negative. Good mental health is critical to children’s success in school and life. Research from the NASP demonstrates that students who receive social-emotional and mental health support achieve better academically but have a better time in school and better classroom behavior. Emotional and mental support can be provided for two levels. First of all by having activities that will strengthen the relationships between the students. Because friendship is one of the best kinds of mental support. The second one is having a psychological expert in the school or contact with the school because mental illness is for sure easier to cure with the help of friends and family but it is still a disease that needs an expert diagnostic and a cure. I focused a little bit more on mental wellbeing in my solution because even though the physical aspects have a lot to do with how an individual feels about an environment, the different factors that affect our mental wellbeing count even more.


In conclusion, high school students are unhappy about school for many reasons such as restrictions, stress issues, and judgment related to that place. All of that brings a psychological reaction called association that makes teenagers associate all the bad things that happened to them during their high school years to that environment. To solve those issues I came up with two main solutions that are making changes in the class structure by having later school start, activities between classes, and changes in the physical high school environment, as a second solution I found the psychological support of students in two levels. I think that those even though they might be hard to install can make high school a better environment for teenagers.

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A Better High School Environment for Teenagers’ Happiness. (2022, Oct 03). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from

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