I just finished my last couple finals this previous week, and I feel amazing. It’s finally summer, which means shopping, relaxing, and binge watching Orange is the New Black. Summer is a time to forget about school, tests, and homework, right?… If you are going to be a junior or senior in high school, though, the college application process seems to be looming ahead. Summer is usually the most popular time for taking college visits, not to mention the ACT or SAT. On top of that, many students are taking AP (advanced placement) classes over the summer. Although all of these programs are important for getting accepted into a good college, some of the pressure these programs create can be unhealthy.
Today more than ever, the college application process is extremely competitve. With most of the top schools in the country accepting less than 10% of applicants, many students are working harder to get higher grades and test scores in order to get in. However, the level of stress that many competitve high school students are experiencing can be detrimental to their emotional and mental well being. In order to get into top colleges, many students place a great deal of importance on getting good grades and test scores.
While focusing on schoolwork is essential during high school, it is important to maintain a well-balanced life. To begin with, it’s great to keep up a healthy social life. Although studying for big tests should take top priority, it’s important to schedule time for friends. Hanging out, binging on Netflix (as I have been doing), or grabbing dinner with people you like is also a great way to get rid of stress that may come from school! Another area to focus on is both your physical and mental health. Playing sports or doing extracirricular activities that you enjoy are great high school resources to take advantage of. Not only do they look good on a college resume, but they’re great places to make new friends or explore talents outside of the classroom. However, it’s important to make sure that the extracirriculars you partake in are genuinely enjoyable, not just another addition to a college application. But sometimes stress in the classroom can get really scary and overwhelming.
What else can you do to eleviate pressure? Some things that I always told myself while going through high school and still continue to tell myself about my schoolwork really highlights what is important about adcademics. First, the purpose of classes is to learn. If you feel that you are learning a lot and being challenged in a certain class, it should not matter what grade you get. A really tough class that you can get a lot of important information out of is a great experience, regardless of the final mark. Second, try your hardest. If you studied for weeks for that biology final and got a B or a C, that’s ok! If there was no more you could do to prepare, why beat yourself up about it? Third, make sure you are happy. This one is the most important. Although schoolwork in itself is not too fun to do, it’s important to check in on your feelings every now and then to make sure you aren’t too overwhelmed. The most important thing to do is to maintain a positive mental state. Your health comes before any test or essay.
Besides thinking about how I’m feeling, there are also important physical steps to keep a postivie look on my schoolwork. The first thing I do when I’m worried about an assignment looming ahead of me is I talk to my family. Talking to someone who will always support you is essential in reducing stress, whether that is a friend, a relative, or even a counselor or teacher at school. These people can offer great advice to help you through tough situations. Second, take a short break from your work. Don’t make this break a week or so, though! Take a couple hours off to do something fun or go exercise, then get back to work feeling refreshed and re-energized. I definitely understand this step, as my university’s mentality is “work hard, play hard.” And finally, don’t be too hard on yourself! If you’re working hard and giving your classes your all, you should feel proud with whatever you accomplish.
Being competitive and disciplined in high school is definitely encouraged, but only in healthy moderation! The college process is really important, but nothing you should compromise your happiness and well being over! It’s summer! Go enjoy it!