Stress Levels of Students Continue to Increase


Rayna Basa, Editor-In-Chief

Today’s high school generation faces a level of stress no other students have experienced before now. Many students believe that skyrocketing GPA, SAT, and ACT scores, as well as a numerous amount of extracurriculars, are necessary to even consider applying to highly competitive schools like Stanford or Columbia.

While doing more than what is asked of can be beneficial, it has led teens to an unhealthy amount of stress to showcase this facade of a ‘perfect student’. According to a survey done by the American Psychological Association, students’ stress levels are higher than adults, especially during the school year. “I’ve noticed that both my friends and I have more pressure placed on ourselves and we are constantly worried about our grades,” said sophomore Mara Allen. “I think that as classes get harder, it’s a lot to manage at once. Our stress levels are sure to go up.”

It has become increasingly difficult for students to be satisfied with their overall portfolio as they believe they are mediocre compared to the millions of others applying.

“I think that particularly on our campus, we have communities of students who are highly competitive and are viewing these opportunities are limited,” said Julie Calderwood, college and career center counselor. With such low acceptance rates, colleges seem to validate this mindset. “If students are only looking at particular California, highly-competitive colleges, or ivy leagues, that’s competitive nationally, it’s competitive for everybody.”

High school students also find that applying for colleges has become more of a contest among classmates. “College is a competition to see who can get in and if you want to get into an even better one it starts getting even more competitive from there,” said Allen.

Many students will not settle for ‘average’; they have to always be above average. Specifically, they want to be just like their competition—normal. The term ‘average’, previously used to describe a standard to be met, is now defined as ‘failing’ according to today’s generation.

“The level of competition has changed generationally, particularly in California schools… on our campus, we have communities of students who are highly competitive and are viewing these opportunities are limited,” said Calderwood. While ‘popular’ schools like UCLA have an extremely competitive applicant pool, Calderwood said it is possible to have just as good of a college experience at a less competitive level.

Students can avoid excessive levels of stress by doing the obvious–avoiding procrastination. “Start preparing earlier; we have so many students who that, despite the fact that junior year, we offer information about how to prepare in advance, resources and programs and information on how to prepare for college application season that comes in the fall of senior year, many students still wait until September of the senior year to really start looking at that process,” said Calderwood. It is beneficial to start looking into not only what colleges fit you, but also what colleges you fit into. By understanding what environment you thrive in will make the college search process much easier.

Both high school students and college admissions of today are taking the holistic approach into consideration. Rather than just having the grades, a well-rounded student who demonstrates they are ready to succeed almost-independently in college is what many schools have turned to.