Get good grades, get into a good college, get a good job. This is what many students hear on a daily basis. As finals week approaches, many students are reminded of the pressures to excel academically.
“I think school stress is natural for everyone and tends to increase during finals because of all the deadlines and whatnot,” said Sahana Srinivasan, a sophomore.
As the competition for getting into college increases, students are faced with the challenge of academic pressure from parents, teachers, and peers. In turn, many students become extremely stressed over grades, extracurriculars, and community service hours in order to get into college.
“School pressure increases because of our environment. We see how hard it is in the world with colleges and jobs so that causes the majority of stress,” said Madison Stancil, a sophomore.
Some see the expectations of parents increasing because of other students’ achievements. In retaliation to colleges’ increasing competition, many students are forced to juggle academics, extracurriculars, sports, and job experience in order to get into a college.
“The bar is raising as people talk more about how well they are doing. Parents expect us to have good grades, do our homework, play a sport, have a job, have a social life, and get eight hours of sleep,” said Arthur Ram, a sophomore.
The rising competition for college and the pressures that come along with it have a toll on many students.
According to a 2014 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), 83% of teenagers say that school is the source of their stress and 69% worry about getting into a good college. The percentage of student stress is rising and many are feeling the increasing pressure.
“There are kids who have extreme stress like anxiety to the point that anxiety has become an epidemic. I think that school stress is a serious issue that needs to be addressed,” said Varsha Raj, a sophomore.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), people can manage stress by taking steps to relax or participate in relaxing activities such as meditation. Students can also reduce stress by doing things that they are passionate about.
“Dance is a really big help for me. I am able to forget about everything happening outside the studio and just dance my emotions out onto the floor,” Ram said.
Besides immediate academic stress, many students worry about getting into college. A prevalent trend in student culture is the pressure to get into prestigious colleges like the Ivy Leagues.
Noah Alagao, a senior, believes that students should stop worrying about the prestige of a college, and instead choose colleges based on their majors or points of interest. The stress to get into famed colleges is relatively unnecessary to future success.
“I think that even though there is a competitive nature in college, there shouldn’t be a competition on how popular the college is. It is mostly just for bragging. This leads to pressure into applying for these colleges,” Alagao said.
Validation and competition are a driving factor of many of these academic stresses. For many, grades are a way for students to compete with peers and prove themselves.
“People think that your success in later life depends on where you go to college. That is not true because there are so many different types of smart other than book smart,” Ram said.
Eliminating the competition culture in students can reduce many of the stressors that plague most students’ day-to-day lives.
“If society eliminates these expectations, people would work for themselves and feel good about that,” Srinivasan said.