Editor's note: This column is by Nicole Swanson, a Tribune intern and senior at Detroit Lakes High School.

High school is often recalled as being “the time of our lives.” Adults say they look back fondly on their high school years.

Those of us still in high school are told to enjoy our youth, but how long does that youth actually last?

A dive into a typical high school student’s life might revive the reality of their stressful schedules that people have forgotten.

Underclassman to upperclassman life is a drastic change. It seems as soon as I started my junior year, the expectations were amplified. Over the course of only a few months, “acting your age” went from being a kid and having fun to growing up and planning for the future. Sophomore year I coasted because I could. Classes were easy, and my electives were chosen because they sounded interesting or because my friends were taking the same classes. I didn’t need a job because my future was still three years away.

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But then comes junior year, which is often the hardest year for students. College-level classes become an option and students begin to feel pressured to take them.

I was taking four of these college-level classes in my seven-period day -- along with playing two sports, working two jobs and maintaining my GPA. I was also taking an advanced Spanish class and chemistry.

With no study halls junior year, my life was shifted to both present and future thinking. My focus was on going to a good university -- and taking all of the steps I needed to get there. A typical junior/senior is taking one to two college-level classes, sometimes more, working one or more jobs, is in at least one extracurricular that takes up 10-plus hours in a week, has a social life, does chores at home, has three-plus hours of homework, and needs to sleep at night, as well.

In order to maintain this lifestyle you must be a present-thinking individual while also being conscientious of the future, which is a nearly impossible balance.

Extracurricular activities such as sports, knowledge bowl or National Honor Society all can be seen as options. Someone who wants to become an engineer might do robotics to impress future employers. A student who dreams of becoming a politician or actor might consider joining the speech team. Student athletes hope for scholarships to help with paying for college. Working jobs during high school is seen as an option in the same way. Everyone works for a different reason but some common ones are to gain experience for a future dream job or perhaps simply to make money to save and make a small dent in costly student loans.

Many students become so stressed and overwhelmed that they are not able to cope with minor things such as a low grade on a test or a rejected job application. Students no longer have a craving for learning; school is nothing but a monotonous cycle of tests, homework, repeat.

High school is meant to be the best time of our lives before we have to be an adult.

We need to pay better attention to experiencing our high school lives, because if our focus is only on the future, we will never have a present.