School and College Stress

Good grades. The highest GPA. The perfect SAT score. The best resumes and applications. Stressful classes. Anxiety-arousing situations at school. Maintaining a social life. With so much on our minds daily, it can be hard to not feel obligated to be perfect and have your life together.

A lot of us high schoolers feel like we are worth nothing more than a number; whether that is our GPA, our SAT scores or our grades. We fail to understand these are just checkmarks on our college applications and do not define who we are as individuals.

Teachers often remind us, “you are not your GPA,” but in the back of our minds resides a fear, an anxiety of a sort, that everyone is ahead of us and we are just behind everyone else. That we may not make it into our desired colleges because there is so much competition, and it’s hard to be the best when competing with other “the bests.”

Several of us high schoolers take advanced placement courses to bump up our GPAs or take the college-level exams to receive college credits so we don’t have to do it in college, and save our parents thousands of dollars. Imagining failing a class itself can seem very stressful. Since colleges want all-rounder students, those involved in one or multiple extracurriculars and organizations may find it hard to equally distribute their time between rigorously time demanding classes, and other activities.

At the end of the day, skills outside being considered a walking-and-talking book of knowledge would be superiorly useful in what adults refer to as “the real world.”

Rank and what quartile one falls in is completely irrelevant. Not because it primarily causes unnecessary stress on us to outdo ourselves and our peers, but because we end up exhausting ourselves bombarding ourselves with homework we procrastinated on for which we end up hating ourselves. Besides, a lot of things we learn in these years we won’t retain and most likely won’t even use at the workplace or later in life. Moreover, nobody is going to walk up to us and criticize our GPAs once we’re out of here.

School counselors intimidate students with an overwhelming amount of information about the next level of education. Happened in middle school, when they were scaring us about how internally dead we would be in high school and should consider thinking about college at an age we are still trying to figure out why we feel the way we do, and it’s happening to us in high school as well.

We all went to the counselors presenting us information and suddenly our hearts are racing as they discuss things like Top 10 Percent, GPA and rank, SAT scores, different colleges, etc.

As high schoolers, we have enough pressure from our “psychotic” parents who obsess over the results instead of looking at the time, effort and energy we put into what we do. They want what’s best for us, obviously, but their way of showing that concern may be more stressful to us than helpful.

They expect us to bring good grades so we can get admitted into a good college, not only bringing prestige to the family and giving our parents something to brag about so others feel inferior, but to also get a job that pays well so we can be rich and happy.

It’s not even shocking that a lot of us feel uneasy simply thinking about the future and wondering if we won’t be able to live up to our parents’ expectations.

Put that aside and consider paying for college. These people loot your pockets if you don’t get a scholarship, increasing the difficulty level of actually getting one.

Nevertheless, our teachers deserve appreciation. They work so hard not only to educate us but play a big role in helping us grow as individuals. A lot of college professors, on the other hand, don’t care. If one fails a class in high school, teachers or counselors will at least talk to their students about it. Nobody is going to walk up to us in college and say “you have a 2.1 GPA and this needs fixing.” They have your money now and that’s all that matters. You can either work your way to the top or drop out of college (without a refund).

It’s rather unfortunate that our lives are controlled by the world’s double standards we are expected to live up to. It’s our lives and we have the right to shape it the way we want. But that would be breaking the norm, making following the path we have chosen even harder.

School can be very stressful, but we all will eventually get through it. This is just a short, yet important phase in all of our lives which won’t seem problematic once we are older and have bigger things to worry about.