The Underlying Competitiveness of High School

The most common reasons for stress on high schoolers are the extensive work from difficult classes and the many requirements to get into college.

The most common reasons for stress on high schoolers are the extensive work from difficult classes and the many requirements to get into college.

Katelyn Ruggles, Photojournalist

Over the years, the stress of getting into college has changed the meaning of high school for teenagers. It used to be considered “the best four years” of everyone’s lives, and it has quickly turned into possibly the worst four years instead. The pressures of getting into college have caused high schoolers to be in competition with each other to get the best grades, take the hardest classes, be president of the most clubs, and do the most community work.


It is no secret that high schoolers want to get into well-known colleges. Nowadays, it is a way to judge one’s intelligence and prove to others that they are smarter than most. Colleges have put all this added stress on teenagers by continuously raising their requirements that are almost impossible to achieve. According to the American Psychological Association, thousands of children and college students show that anxiety has increased substantially since the 1950s. The leading causes for this statistic are excess school assignments, the stress of turning assignments in on time, and the pressure to get into college. 


Students these days are packing on unimaginable classes in their schedule, primarily consisting of honors and AP classes, sports, and multiple clubs. Jenna Roncevich (10) expressed her concern for her upcoming junior year by saying that she is “concerned for having to take multiple AP classes, being on the lacrosse team, and possibly having a job”. Having to juggle schoolwork, practices, club meetings, and still trying to prove yourself different from the thousands of other students when it comes time to apply for college has left no time for teenagers to enjoy their life. Kids need time themselves to explore who they are and find themselves with the comfort of their friends and people they love. All work and no free time have made students have more anxiety and depression than psychiatric patients. 


Also, most students’ initiative for doing community service and getting good grades has changed. Instead of genuinely wanting to give back to their community, they are just doing service to look good on applications and stand out from other students. The same goes with school participation. Kids are getting good grades and joining clubs and programs at school for the self-benefit of college instead of showing school spirits and trying to improve the school’s environment. 


Teenagers these days almost look down upon each other for not going to good colleges or having “difficult” majors because it reflects that they are not intelligent and therefore beneath others. College used to be a place to learn about one’s future career field, which was determined by interest, not what the most challenging job was. Now, it seems that the only thing high schoolers base their career on is which one will provide the most money. This idea can arguably be said to have been passed on from parents because they want their children to be as successful as possible, and nowadays success is measured by how wealthy one is instead not how happy someone is for the things they are doing to give back to the world. 


Compared to the past, kids are experiencing more anxiety and depression due to the pressures of getting into college. Students are missing out on the opportunity to have some of the best years of their life because they are too focused on trying to compete with students around the globe in the hopes of getting into the top colleges and being as successful as possible. However, it seems that teenagers have forgotten what the true meaning of being successful in life is.