College. It’s a word heard by every high school student hundreds of times as graduation approaches. What places are you looking at? How did you score on the SAT’s? Which major interests you? Do you know what career path you are going to follow?
Each of these questions is repeatedly asked by family and friends to teenagers with the intent of squeezing out as much information from them about the path that they will choose to follow for the rest of their lives. And they wonder why we are stressed.
According to USA Today, twenty percent of American adolescents suffer from anxiety. Many of these students may experience stress from pressure the feel associated with school work and with the college application process. Thousands of applications filled out to thousands of colleges by thousands of eager students; college is clearly a major part of our culture in America. While colleges may like to see that a student participates in extracurricular activities, students may cope with the stress better when they understand that they don’t need a million different activities to have a perfect application.
Perspective is the key to smoothing out the anxious thoughts that many kids feel at this time. While one teenager may be anxious about an unsafe living situation, another youth may be equally anxious about getting a B on their history exam.
Although being motivated and ambitious is positive, perfectionism can lead to students feeling overwhelmed when applying to colleges. This stress of trying to be perfect not only negatively impacts students’ emotions but can also result in lower efficiency and productivity. For example, students often put too much pressure on themselves to score high on the standardized tests, and as a result may become “freaked out,” performing worse overall.
Not all high school students feel overwhelmed and stressed at this time. Some aspiring scholars are able to avoid the stress associated with choosing a college. Students who do feel overwhelmed should understand that it is okay not to be perfect in order to find the perfect college for them.
Like many others, I have dealt with anxiety when thinking about the future and which path I will choose to pursue. However, I realize it is okay not to know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life when I am only eighteen. Many people seem to think that the decision must be made before going to college. However, without room for growth and exploration away from home, how does one know for sure?
Applying to college should be a fun and exciting experience as it marks the initial step in a long lifetime of achievement ahead. Instead of becoming overwhelmed, maybe we students should focus on enjoyable activities that are interesting and forego other activities we are not as passionate about. Those who engage in activities that excite and energize them will bring positivity to themselves and to society now and in the future.
Still stressed about college? Just think: ten years from now, you won’t even remember the B from that test.
About the Contributor: Emily Kumpf, a Senior at Pennsbury High School, is Vice President of the Awareness Teen Advisory Group (ATAG). She is an avid field hockey player and will be attending the University of Rochester in the fall.