Perspective: Junior Pressures
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PSAT. ACT. SAT. Internships. Grades. Extracurriculars. When I was an underclassman, I’ve always heard anecdotes of my older friends complaining about the pressures of having to stack up their résumé. However, being the age that I was, I brushed it off and didn’t think much of it. Little did I know however, junior year would creep up on me much faster than I thought. Junior year is often thought of as the time to stop fooling around, boost your GPA and make yourself stand out to colleges by applying yourself in your community. However, with that accompanies stress and pressure.
In a school of over 5,000 students, it was difficult for me to find my niche. Since I quit tennis right before freshman year, I wasn’t going to be an athlete; and since I quit band after freshman year, I wasn’t going to have that privilege of saying that I committed to band for my entire highschool career on my résumé. Therefore, I dedicated most of my time to academics. I would often stay up till the wee hours of the morning making sure I understood every concept on an exam.
In October, I remember staying up, restless in bed because I was so anxious over the PSAT because I thought I had failed. There was this consuming thought that if I didn’t get National Merit, then that was one thing less that I would be able to put on my résumé. Recently, right before I just took the SAT in January, my mom had asked me what a good score was and what she should expect. While this inquiry could be quantified, I disliked the idea of having specific score range that was to be considered as “good” because this then insinuated that having a score below that range equates to failure. I then replied to my mom that a good score is not a number, but rather the preparation and effort you put into the test.
According to 2015 New York University study, approximately 49 percent of the surveyed juniors reported feeling a lot of stress on a daily basis and 31 percent reported feeling somewhat stressed. Major contributors to stress among these upperclassmen were grades, homework and college preparation.
I feel like juniors, especially in a competitive school like CHS, get their heads wrapped around the idea that scoring high on a test translates to success. I feel that perhaps this pressure to get good grades and join an absurd amount of extracurriculars, stems from parental expectations, comparison to peers, but mostly unrealistic societal expectations. Granted more and more colleges are moving away from the need of an SAT score, but regardless, a majority of schools still place a high emphasis on these standardized tests.
So how do we deal with this stress? Granted I’m not a therapist and have no experience in psychology apart from my IB Psychology class, but I would say that having a great support system is the best stress-coping mechanism. Additionally, find that one thing that you love doing that helps take your mind off of the intensity of school, whether that be hanging out with friends, joining clubs, playing sports or music. Although it’s normal to feel pressured with grades, activities, sports and college preparation, it’s important to understand that in the long run, what seems right now as the most important thing in the world, might have little impact on your future.