Student’s Pressures On The Rise

With rising college tuition and increased competition in college admissions and scholarships, it’s not unusual for the average high school student to be incredibly stressed about grades, GPA and college futures. But is this pressure to succeed a healthy push, or is it just leading to unhealthy habits and bad decisions?

Between 75 percent and 98 percent of college students surveyed each year report having cheated in high school as opposed to only 20 percent during the 1940s, but why are students cheating more frequently? Most people agree it’s due to the ever growing need to achieve.

“I think a lot of it comes from the way our society is structured now. One hundred fifty years ago, [our economy] became a manufacturing economy. Suddenly, you had to have a high school degree… [and] you had a good job. Now we’ve kind of blown the roof off of that,” social studies teacher Charlie Blair-Broeker said.

Truly, the rhythm and dynamics of society have changed severely, putting more pressure on students to achieve higher educational degrees. “I mean, do you have any clue what you want to do? The pace of change is so quick, you guys are going to be working in careers that don’t even exist yet. How can you plan for that?” Blair-Broeker asked.

As society loses the need for certain careers, other opening appear almost monthly. As technology and socialization changes, so too do the attitudes of the people trying to integrate into it. “[The stress] is society wide,” Blair-Broeker said.

Alarming new statistics also show that between 10 to 15 percent of teenagers have some symptoms of teen depression at any one time. Anxiety and associated disorders are also most commonly found in teenagers. Though some of these symptoms can be contributed to other factors, school is a huge part of one’s teen years, and it will therefore be relevant to one’s emotional well being.

And with unhealthy emotions comes unhealthy habits. According to The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse VIII: Teens and Parents, an annual back-to-school survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, teens experiencing high stress are twice as likely as teens with lower stress levels to drink, smoke and use illegal substances. This is to be expected, as mood altering substances like marijuana and addictive substances like nicotine can seem to lower one’s stress level. This is despite the fact that nicotine has actually been proven to raise stress levels. It only seems to relieve stress because feeding the addiction relieves the need.

SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that from 2008 to 2009, illegal drug use rates among teens increased from 9.3 percent to 10 percent. A survey done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse around the same time found that nearly 72 percent of youths have consumed alcohol by the end of high school.

The same survey found that 44 percent of teenagers have tried cigarettes by their senior year, and around 20 percent of high school seniors are regular smokers. Though not all students using drugs are stressed about high school, and not all students stressed about high school students are using drugs, it is fair to assume that a significant number of students with high levels of stress utilize illegal substances.

So with the dangers and consequences of stress in teenagers, why is it only getting worse? Is there anything we can do to prevent it? Principal Dr. Powers has some comforting words for students.

“I think there is a high level of anxiety on the part of parents and students,” Powers said. “Most people are anxious about the unknown, and they don’t gather enough information on the matter.”

He said Iowa state college admissions have a simple foundation: the RAI score. Calculated with one’s class rank, number of core courses, ACT score and GPA, the RAI score is any conflicted student’s saving grace. If students fall short in one place, they can reach the required 245 points and fill the gaps in other places.

But Dr. Powers said even if one does not have the required RAI, it will not bar a student from being admitted to a state college. Individual meetings with admissions staff are a second chance.

Overall, Dr. Powers said not to be worried. “Enjoy your high school years … is it truly the destination, or is it the journey?” Powers asked.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.