The Cost of Starting High School Later

Many argue that starting school later will help increase productivity in teenagers, but that comes with its setbacks.



The sun begins to rise before Dallastown students enter school early to start their day.

I wake up in the morning running off of five hours of sleep, shuffling through the dark to find my phone to hit the snooze button. I, like most teenagers, get less than the required eight to ten hours of sleep each night, but experts might have a solution to this problem. 

Starting high school at a later time is a topic that many people toss around, but will it ever be something that exists in the future? Is it even realistic? 

As a high school student myself, I feel biased toward the fact that school should start at a later time. If school starts later, that means I can sleep in later, wake up to daylight, and have an adequate breakfast. 

Statistics show that on average 65% of teenagers are not getting the recommended 10 hours of sleep per night. During puberty, adolescents’ “sleep drive”, which is the pressure to sleep, changes and when there is a lack of sleep, our bodies adapt to the schedule.

Pushing back the time when high schoolers start school can help improve teenagers’ mental health. The provided extra time for more adequate sleep will help lower depression and anxiety rates. 

Dallastown Junior Carolyn Fuller feels that “It would be beneficial for students and teachers because it would allow them to get more sleep.” 

It would be beneficial for students and teachers because it would allow them to get more sleep.

— Carolyn Fuller

Getting more sleep helps improve cognitive functions, so performance in school will improve and so will the ability to use more critical thinking skills throughout the day. There will be an increase in teenagers’ grades and more positive attitudes from them overall. 

Safely driving to school and the number of tardies go hand in hand with one another as well as the amount of sleep teenagers get. There will be less drowsiness while driving, which contributes to car accidents, and fewer tardies. Teens will be more alert while driving and have enough energy to make it to school promptly. 

But pushing back the time does have its negatives. The consequences are what happens after school and how that can be managed well. 

Extracurriculars, childcare, sports, and other obligations will be affected if the start time is pushed back, since the end time itself will also be pushed back. 

When speaking with Dallastown teacher Miss. Ortman on the topic of starting school later, she delved into what after school would look like.

 “Sports [would] become more difficult. Bussing [would become] exponentially more difficult (requires double the bussing if all K-12 students go to school at the same time), which is very expensive.” 

The shift to a later time would place a financial burden on the school district and on teachers with young children. Finding adequate childcare cost a large sum of money and would be a large adjustment to schedules. 

Not only would there be obligations to change the start time, but for a district to get it passed would be virtually impossible and requires approval from a larger entity, thus would account for a loss of money.  

Speaking with Dallastown superintendent Dr. Doll, he had thoughts on the process of delaying the start time of high school. A decision to adjust school hours at the secondary level would require stakeholder feedback and likely a broader county-wide initiative.

Many tired high school students would love to see the future of delayed start times for schools, as well as concerned scientists, but with many financial and scheduling burdens, this future might not be seen for a long time until the perfect solution comes along.

So to my fellow teenager reading this and falling over from tiredness, think of ways to combat this exhaustion. Work on your time management, pick out outfits and lunch the night before,  and always eat a balanced breakfast in the morning. These might be little steps, but they will make you feel like you woke up at 8:00 instead of 6:00.