The Lion's Roar

What Teens Are Really Stressing About

Jessica Rech '16, Staff Writer

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For high school students, school has become anything but a learning experience.

Primarily, it has become the gateway to college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 20.2 million students enrolled into American universities and colleges for the fall semester of 2015. For many families, college – from online to community to a four-year school – has become an expectation. College does provide the means to give teenagers that “push” into adulthood, but with each year, college tuition has increased along with the pressure to be accepted. According to College Board, cost (including tuition, fees, room and board) has increased $13,000 in private four-year schools, $7,000 in public four-year schools since 2000.

With the expectation to apply to college, there has been an increase of at least 15% in overall college enrollment rates since 1980, says US News. And with more and more students applying to college, across the nation, school’s acceptance rates have decreased. Schools such as Columbia University, with a 65% acceptance rate in 1988, now have a mere 7% acceptance rate, as well as a decrease from 52% to 33% in the University of Michigan, and in prestigious schools such as Yale, whose rates have decreased from 17% to 7%.

With these newfound pressures, today’s students still have not found ways to cope well with the overwhelming stress that is getting accepted to college. Students have now become accustomed to AP classes, excessive homework, and the need for 4.0 GPAs.

In order to finish homework, achieve high final averages, and receive college acceptance letters, students are not limiting themselves to any code of honor. They’ve actually created their own kind of code: get work done quickly, efficiently, and as stress-free as possible.

According to polls conducted by NPR and the Harvard School of Public Health, about 40% of parents say their high schooler is experiencing a lot of stress from school, and 24% say it is homework related.

Some stress on students can actually be helpful and motivating, but too much can result in major health issues.

The American Psychological Association reported that 21% of adults feels extreme levels of stress. A result of this is that teenagers will follow in the footsteps of the adults around them, setting themselves up for high levels of stress now and chronic stress, chronic illness, and poor health in the future, as well as shorter lifespans.

A typical AP student will spend about 3-4 hours on homework a night, while other students can spend about 1-2 hours a night. Add to that a seven hour school day, a part time job, sports, extra curricular activities, meals, and sleep (if minimal), and students don’t have much time to spend with friends or family or catch up on their hobbies.

Throughout a student’s high school career, stress constantly piles on top of itself, with weekends and holiday vacations filled with work, homework, and school activities, a student never truly gets a break until summer vacation.

The amount of stress high school students feel is unhealthy and unnecessary, though expectations for their performance have made it necessary. Teenagers, who should be taking the opportunity to learn and prepare for their adult life, are instead getting migraines, becoming ill, and having mental breakdowns over anything that isn’t perfect, and are calling it normal.

It isn’t normal, and adults who experienced a fraction of this stress as a teen, are calling it “over reacting.”

There is a major problem at hand for the upcoming generation who is constantly striving to be more than enough and is suffering. School should be challenging, yes, but it should not be unhealthy and by no means harm the mental health of students for things such as a perfect GPA or a college acceptance letter.

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What Teens Are Really Stressing About