Pressure and stress: high school students in Montgomery County know these feelings all too well.
Just by being in school, students are put under significant amounts of pressure. Whether it’s peers talking about the colleges they’ve been accepted to, the competing demands of extracurricular classes, or teachers telling them that their class needs to be the number one priority. Students’ daily lives have plenty of stress. This is true especially in our area, where there is significant pressure to get great grades, to go to a “name brand” college, and to best position yourself for long-term career success. The pressure at times can feel overwhelming.
When many students arrive home from school, they are met with even more pressure from their parents. In some cases, parents may completely run their child’s life, telling them every class they must take, what colleges to apply to and forcing them to complete assignments immediately when they get home from school before they are allowed to do anything else.
Despite the other pressures students feel during the school day, it is parents who put the most pressure on their children. One has to wonder: Is the parent trying to live vicariously through their child? Or is it that the parent truly just wants their child to be as successful as they can possibly be later in life, so they push their child hard as teenagers to help them prepare for the future. Parents certainly know how competitive applying to colleges can be and they want to give their child the best chance for success when they apply.
Although parents may want what is best for their child, sometimes the pressure goes too far. Do students really need to take as many AP classes as possible in order to achieve greatness? When a student ends up taking five or six AP classes, their lives become dominated by schoolwork.. AP classes are college-level classes. A college student typically takes a maximum of four or five classes each semester. Taking “all APs” in high school is the equivalent of a college student taking seven classes, which would be very unusual even for a true college student. A student’s life should not revolve entirely around academics. Students also need time to participate in extracurricular activities that they enjoy. And yes, students deserve a social life. It’s what keeps us sane.
At the end of the day, it is understandable that parents put pressure on their children. Many high school students are not particularly self-motivated and may require someone to push them to succeed and achieve. Typically, a parent serves this role. Many high schoolers also don’t realize how important a strong work ethic is, and this is something that needs to be taught to them by their parents. If that push can happen without putting too much pressure on the students, that’s the best possible outcome.