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Stressed out

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Did you know that one in three teenagers have contemplated suicide? This is a 183 percent increase since the 1970’s that corresponds directly to the rise in expectations for college bound students as far as ACT’s and SAT’s scores, GPA’s, and college level courses offered in high school are concerned. There are milder forms of students expressing stress: emotional break-downs between classes, dark circles under eyes, loss of appetite, ulcers, a nervous tic. In more serious cases the young student will experience a general loss of interest in things that the person used to find interesting. The reason for this is actually all rather simple; there is too much stress in today’s world for young people to handle.

I happen to be in the middle of this world of stress and it has become a particularly difficult situation in my senior year of high school. I experience a mild form of this “stressed out syndrome” having nervous tics and emotional break-downs between classes. There are people that tell me I need to suck it up, but after two years of a two A.M. bed time and the five to six o’clock wake up call I find myself unable to cope. There are those who ask me why I put myself under so much stress, I take AP and IB classes, do a sport every season, be an officer in a school club, join a top choir and all the other stuff that I do. The answer is a simple one. I, like every other member of my graduating class, want to prove that I am the well rounded student that colleges are looking for and that out of everyone else, I should be picked to go to their college.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is not entirely my fault that I am completely maxed out. It seems that schools are trying to add harder and harder classes. Kids that can’t do the whole AP thing are forced into those classes because there are no easier versions of that class. For example, I am a smart kid but last year a decision was made to not offer D.E. Calculus, the lower and easier version of the AP Calculus class that I’m in right now. This was a deplorable decision on our school’s part, and now my fellow students and I are failing Calculus because the class is too fast-paced and the concepts are presented in a manner that is unintelligible. Though students today are smart, that doesn’t mean that everyone can handle the work load of an AP Calculus class, especially along with all of the other AP classes that are becoming mandatory to take in order to get into a decent college.

College is the big word on every upper level high school student these days and we all want to get into our first choice. Where a 3.95 GPA would get you into almost any college you wanted to be in out of high school ten years ago, these days if you applied to Princeton, Harvard or any of the Ivy league colleges with that GPA you would be laughed out of the admissions office. For example: My sister was senior girl of the year, obtained a 4.4 GPA, was the captain of two sports, and had collectively a 1560 on Math and Verbal for her SAT’s, but she was rejected to UVA, and Notre Dame.

In addition to making sure that grades and scores are close to perfect it is also imperative to be a well rounded student. Thus, when not studying for all the impossible classes and all the impossible scores, every college bound teenager should be completing community service projects, playing the oboe, competing in sports, and participating every club offered. Colleges only want the students that do everything so all the college bound students end up being almost the same exact person. My question is, whatever happened to individuality? Who went and screwed that up for teenagers today, because I would really like to give them a piece of my mind.
When our parents were growing up you only participated in the things that you loved. If you loved sports, you did sports along with school. If you loved the arts, you did arts with school. If you loved to be in the Young Basket Weavers club, that’s what you did, and you participated with your whole heart, and put all efforts into making yourself the best student-basket weaver that this world has ever seen. To be competitive for colleges today, you must be a top student and be the best in every club and sport offered. So now everyone has to be the best studentathletevolunteerweaver the world has ever seen. What has happened is, no one puts a hundred percent effort into anything that they do because they are spread too thin. Students have to have their minds in a hundred million places in order to get in “that” college. High school is no longer about enjoying the “best time of your life” it is just about surviving now. We are no longer able to enjoy the things we love or work hard at the things that we love to do. Our elders have dubbed us lazy, scatter-brained, and absent minded, but the reality is, our elders didn’t deal with the massive work load that we deal with at our age.

So you may ask, what is there to do about all these stressed out kids? The reality is, unless you have a time machine and the Dean of Admissions of a top university tied up in your basement, there isn’t a single thing that can be done. Too much is expected of fourteen to seventeen year-olds and it really should stop. But it won’t. There will always be the kids that can muddle through high school with good grades and participation in one other thing, who are happy with their acceptance into the local community college. Then there will be the ones recognizable by their gaunt figures and dark circles beneath their eyes, who are working to be competitive in a time when perfection is expected of humans.





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