Another Stressful Time in the Year

Liam Gaumont and Natasha Aragon

It’s again that time of the year: time to wonder what class to choose and stress out your counselor with constant questions and meeting dates. Naturally, at the beginning of high school everyone focuses on meeting graduation requirements. Yet, after sophomore year when most requirements like having an art, tech and physical education credit have been met what do you do next? Typically, the answer for students at Dulaney is to choose a large amount of Advanced Placement (AP) and higher level classes for college applications. In the end that’s what matters right? Looking good for college applications becomes the top priority, and students do whatever it takes. 

As sophomores and juniors get closer to choosing a college and applying, competition rises for the best application. Suddenly students question their number of APs and whether they appear more interesting than their friends. All throughout January in classes all you hear is “What classes or AP’s are you taking next year?” Both consciously and unconsciously, students are comparing themselves to others. Hearing someone have less APs than you eases your anxiety and vice versa. In a recent survey about stress associated with registration, 80.4 percent of students have noticed the growing presence of competition when it comes to classes in Dulaney. With competition comes anxiety and stress. Not only do students feel the expectations of others, but they feel their own, and this comparison will lead to worrying about being good enough. Prioritizing the future and telling yourself that the “future you” will be grateful won’t get you places. When you start putting together college applications, it will feel great to list off all your AP’s and that rigorous schedule; but is it really worth it?

The process of applying to college is not a quick and easy task. For most students, it’s quite the opposite. If you are taking a rigorous schedule with multiple APs, chances are you want to go to a very good college. While yes, a rigorous schedule will definitely increase your chances, the competition to get into elite colleges is too extreme. With a very intense junior or senior year, you may find yourself demotivated if that rejection letter comes back, but it’s good to be aware that those elite colleges are not the average standard.

Nowadays, you need to have multiple clubs and APs on your transcript to even be considered for the top schools. In that same recent survey about stress with the application process, 56.3 percent of students participate in extracurriculars for college applications, and 75 percent of students attend classes for a more attractive application. Whether it’s clubs or certain AP classes, clearly a lot of students in our own high school consider social and academic opportunities for the sole purpose of looking good for colleges.

It’s very easy to feel pressured by peers around you to sign up for clubs you aren’t interested in and classes that are just too rigorous for you. Don’t get us wrong, it is important to get the highest level of education you can receive after high school, but don’t tear apart your social, mental and physical health to do so. Enjoy these crucial four years of your life, while also challenging yourself to grow.