How do Casti High School Students Balance Extracurriculars?


Madeleine Chen

A collection of planner pages with extra curriculars students mentioned in their interviews.

The Casti student stereotype or, to be even broader, the Bay Area high schooler stereotype can be defined as an overachieving student with an after-school life full of extracurriculars (emphasis on full). It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how and why this stereotype started, but we can learn a bit of what the after-school life of a Casti high schooler looks like and how it affects their mood and outlook on dealing with stress.

The range of extracurriculars students partake in is vast. They stretch from sports—like rowing, water polo, and basketball—to the arts— such as choir, theater, and dance. These activities often take students across the country to competitions and showcases during breaks and weekends. Squeezed in between these time consuming activities are Casti co-curriculars and other interests and hobbies.

Juliet Schmeltzer ‘26 reported 16.5 hours of extracurriculars per week, and added on an average of two hours of homework per night. If we think about the time we spend at school, commute time in between activities, homework, and these 16.5 hours per week, it leaves little time for relaxation and rest. All of this makes us wonder, how do we balance it all?

The problem with this grueling schedule is that when I asked students how they manage stress and time, one common answer was: “I don’t.” Ali Bollyky ‘26 described the stress from both extracurriculars and school as “constant.” Multiple students commented that their jam-packed schedules leave them with little to no free time. Amelia Yuan ‘26 noted that she “always eat[s] dinner after everyone else in [her] family because of [her] busy after-school schedule.” I initially set out to interview multiple students about how they manage stress, but after hearing their responses, it raises the larger questions: How stressed are Casti students feeling? What can be done to effectively reduce that stress?

Many adults like parents suggest setting aside time each day to do what you love or to take time to journal or meditate. Instead of using productive de-stressing activities like going on walks and doing art, many Casti students (and other teens) find themselves scrolling their phone. Ten minutes of journaling means ten fewer minutes of studying for an important quiz or test, so what begins as scrolling for five minutes often turns into hours on end. Without the implementation of de-stressing methods, the stress becomes a never ending cycle that students feel they have no choice but to live with.

Initially, I set out to find ways Casti students manage their stress and their extracurriculars while keeping a healthy balance. As I interviewed more students, the answer became clearer that many students aren’t managing their stress well. A healthy stress can be motivating for a student to work harder, but too much can cause problems with mental health and make students even less motivated to do their work. Even though summer is approaching and this school year is coming to a close, it is important to think about what we can do next year to turn our negative stress into positive motivation.