Stressed Out?

College. It’s a word heard by every high school student hundreds of times as graduation approaches. What places are you looking at? How did you score on the SAT’s? Which major interests you? Do you know what career path you are going to follow? Each of these questions is repeatedly asked by family and friends to teenagers with the intent of squeezing out as much information from them about the path that they will chose to follow for the rest of their lives.

And they wonder why we are stressed. Currently in the United States, twenty percent of all adolescents suffer from anxiety. A percentage of these people endure this stress as a direct result of the societal pressures which have become associated with school work and applying to college. Thousands of applications filed out to thousands of colleges by thousands of eager students: college is clearly a major part of our culture in America. However, the stress caused by the overwhelming mountain of decisions surrounding college can be calmed if students are able to gain the knowledge that they don’t need to cram a million different activities into their lives to get the “perfect robot” application. Perspective is the key to smoothing out the anxious thoughts that many individuals may feel at this time.

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While one teenager in another part of the world is suffering from anxiety as the result of lacking, say, a safe place to live, another teenager may experience the same level of anxiety simply from receiving a B letter grade on an exam for their history class. As much as it is beneficial to be highly motivated, the drive to become perfect can also come back as a destructive force, as seen by many teenagers often becoming overly stressed in the process of applying to college. This stress and the pressure students put on themselves not only have an impact on emotions but also will result in lower efficiency and productivity. For example, students often put too much pressure on themselves to score high on the standardized tests, but ultimately may become “freaked out” and therefore perform worse overall. This is not to say that all high school students feel overwhelmed and stressed at this time, as there are many aspiring scholars who are able to avoid the stress associated with choosing a college.

However, for those who do feel overwhelmed, there should be a way to teach students that it is okay not to be perfect in order to get into college. I myself have dealt with stressful feelings when thinking about the future and which path I will choose to pursue. However, when taking a step back I realize that it is okay not to know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life when I am only seventeen. Many people seem to think that the decision must be made before going to college; however, without room for growth and exploration away from home, how will one know for sure? Applying to college should be a fun and exciting experience as it marks the initial step in a long lifetime of achievement ahead. Instead of becoming overwhelmed, one should focus on enjoyable activities while not participating in uninteresting events just to be put down on paper.

If these stress levels caused by seeking perfection are able to be avoided, the next generation of individuals will be able to have a higher productivity, positively affecting our society in the future. Still feeling stressed about college, just think, ten years from now, you will never remember the B from that test.