Don’t give PowerSchool all the power

graphic: Caroline Smith

graphic: Caroline Smith

Since it opened up to students in 2009, PowerSchool has become an influential tool in our lives, letting us check in on grades and attendance whenever we want. No longer are grades recorded by hand; no longer are students surprised when they receive their report cards in the mail. Now, students can easily monitor their academic progress. With this convenience comes the responsibility of staying on top of class work and attendance and—depending on the habits of the individual students—additional stress.

We can all say that at one point or another, we’ve at least slightly freaked out about our grades—whether anticipating a test score or realizing that our grades are dropping as quickly as the bass in the newest EDM sensation. For some students, this “freak-out” session occurs on a daily basis; for others, it only happens towards the end of each quarter. But the commonality is that the stress always occurs when we login to the service, the terrible grim reaper of academic happiness.

If we consider the purpose of PowerSchool, we see that it really should be a helpful tool, one that encourages responsibility. We are now accountable for monitoring our grades and maintaining them accordingly. In and of itself, this responsibility is an invaluable lesson we learn from high school. However, some students have either too eagerly embraced this duty or slacked off on this responsibility, making PowerSchool a stressor.

graphic: Caroline Smith

graphic: Caroline Smith

At the beginning of each year, teachers encourage us to check PowerSchool regularly to make sure we are staying on top of all of our assignments. But between the teachers’ words and the act of actually logging into the site, there’s some miscommunication. What exactly do teachers mean when they tell us to check PowerSchool “regularly”? Some teachers also comment on the outrageous number of times they’ve seen students log in to PowerSchool every day. (Yes, they can track how many times you’ve logged in.) And on the flipside, there are still some students who remain unaware of their own grades, having never visited the site. The regularity of PowerSchool visits is different for all students, but it can soon become a habit, with some students checking PowerSchool many times in a day and others checking it only when they remember that the marking period is speeding toward a close.

With differing frequencies of PowerSchool checks, it’s hard to say what is the “right balance.” In fact, there isn’t a “right” number of times to check PowerSchool per day, per week, or per month because it really all comes down to the individual. PowerSchool is a personalized tool, and students should use it as they see fit, but within the parameters of what PowerSchool was really created to be—and PowerSchool was not created to be a stressor. The website is a tool to help check on progress and it should be used to that effect. If a habit leads to an unhealthy obsession, then PowerSchool is no longer being used well, and the case is the same if a habit leads to an inattentiveness to grades.

If you’re someone who strives for excellence in academics, maybe it’s good to check PowerSchool on a daily basis. If you’re someone who doesn’t stress too much about grades, checking rarely is another option. But make sure that you prioritize your emotional well-being above your grades—if you feel your stomach flip every time you log in, you might be overdoing it. Do you think you’re checking too often? Try an app like SelfControl to limit your use over the course of the day. If you feel like you should be checking more, you can have a parent or guardian check for you or remind you to check. PowerSchool exists for your benefit, so don’t let it develop a negative control over your life.

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