Address the Stress

Theo Mahlum

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If you’re a University Prep Upper Schooler, you’ve felt it: your parents have poured tens of thousands of dollars into your education and expect returns in the form of college acceptance letters, high test scores and good grades. The increasing competitiveness of college has made basic academic competency no longer the only qualifying factor to getting into college. Hence, every year, hundreds of thousands of students must out-do each other to get into the top colleges. Unfortunately, the high cost of education means stress is even worse for students at private schools like UPrep. 

Theo Mahlum

A year of attending UPrep as an Upper Schooler costs $36,750 without financial aid. Families are willing to pay this large amount because of an expectation that their children will benefit from their time at UPrep. This assumption is not invalid. UPrep offers numerous opportunities public schools don’t: accessible college counselors, small class sizes, test prep and office hours. Because of this, we fall into the trap of judging student success on the student’s test scores, grades, and college acceptance letters. 

What is missing from the equation is the student’s mental health—damaged by the long hours, stress and fear of failure. Four years multiplied by $36,750 is equal to $147,000. The cost of failure is exceptionally high at UPrep. With $147,000 worth of reasons for a student to succeed, it is entirely reasonable for students to feel overly stressed over college admissions. Unfortunately, all of this stress adds up to become a significant impact on a student’s wellbeing. A 2015 study of high school students attending private schools in the United States by New York University found that half of the surveyed students were chronically stressed. More importantly, the study found that their experience “can cause kids to burn out by the time they get to college, or to feel the psychological and physical effects of stress for much of their adult lives.” 

The college application process, the pressures of performing at private high schools and the increased college competitiveness are harming students’ health in high school and continues in college and throughout the rest of their life. 

So students, take a break, stop stressing about grades and college and realize that you will be successful in life, no matter what. And parents, recognize that you aren’t paying for college acceptance letters and test scores and realize that, no matter where your child goes in life, they’re still your child, and thirty years from now, college acceptance letters and test scores  won’t matter.