Dhathry Doppalapudi | Torrey Pines High School Senior
For most people, this time of year between Thanksgiving and the holiday season is festive and exciting. For high school seniors, however, it’s a time of anxiety because of their college applications. Most students start working on their college apps in September – researching schools, compiling a college list, creating application accounts, writing essay drafts. From then until spring, when most admission decisions are released, students feel immense stress about their future.
A 2015 study by New York University showed that 49 percent of Northeastern American high school students reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis, and 26 percent reported clinically significant symptoms of depression. From a high school student’s perspective, it is abundantly clear to me that the reason for these shocking statistics is the unhealthily high importance given to the college that you get into.
“College admissions are so overhyped nowadays,” Lindsay, a Canyon Crest Academy senior said. “People think their entire future depends on what college they get into.” Torrey Pines High School senior Aja agrees. She and many of her friends, she says, feel a lot of pressure to get into their top colleges and are worried that they will be embarrassed if they don’t. “It’s not just that we or our parents are putting pressure on us; it’s our peers too,” she said. “People are judgmental and gossip about other people’s college admissions as if it’s their business and not a personal decision that could be made for any number of reasons. They will look down on you for going to a college they think is bad.”
“In this area especially, there’s a really unhealthy, competitive environment that gives people unreasonably high standards and expectations for themselves,” Lindsay said. “I know that it’s there and I don’t like it, but I feel like I have no other choice but to go along with it and get all stressed out over college apps.”
Students wear themselves out by juggling extracurriculars, standardized test preparation, volunteer work, and heavy courseloads: all of which they do to satisfy the ever-increasing requirements to get into a “good” college. The point of attending college is to further your education, but students can’t do this if they’re burning themselves out before they even get there. With levels of anxiety and depression, along with suicide rates, among American youth on the rise, it is important to recognize and try to decrease the pressure that teenagers are feeling and decrease the emphasis on college acceptances.