High School, High Stress

The minute my teens get home from school, they start complaining about how much homework they have — usually it’s at least a couple hours worth. Of course, the next thing I hear about is how unfair it is…and part of me agrees.

Being a teen has never been easy, but rigorous academic demands and  jam-packed extracurricular schedules are making the high school years so much more stressful.

What’s behind all this pressure — and all this homework?

Is it the increased competition to get into college? Is it that teachers aren’t doing their jobs and expecting kids to learn on their own time? Has the economic downturn put more pressure on students to get scholarships?

Many teens will admit they’re stressed out.

In a Miami Herald article this weekend, Cherisse Cooper, a senior at Miami Beach Senior High, said she worries not  only about getting into college but about how she will afford the tuition.

“I am scared I won’t be able to get accepted into the colleges I want just  because I might have had a bad test date,” Cherisse says. “I am also stressed  out about trying to get scholarships because I can’t afford tuition. All I can  do is apply and wait to see if I am eligible for financial aid.”

I worry what’s going to happen to this stressed out generation of teens — will they eventually burn out? They are being told over and over that getting good grades in rigorous classes just isn’t enough. They have to be star athletes, volunteer of the year and president of their class.

In the Herald article, Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at the Stanford University School of  Education, advises teens to choose activities in moderation.

“Students have to realize that they can’t participate in everything,” Pope  says. “Joining many activities will only lead to a student that is stretched too  thin.”

As a parent, I feel the stress, too. Counselors recommend we encourage our teens to take time to de-stress —go for a run, read a  book for pleasure or just find time to chill.

Dr. Gregory Germain of Pediatric & Medical  Associates in Connecticut, said parents need to remember that not every kid needs a multi-page resume at age 18 to succeed. “There are lots of kids out there  who are just that — kids — and there is a place … and a college for  everyone.”

What do you think of the stress on high school students? Does it make them better prepared for college? Is it zapping all the fun out of the high school years? Is it creating a generation of anxiety-ridden teens ( and parents)?

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