Throughout most students’ high school careers, they are presented with the challenge of figuring out whether they want to go to college, and if so, how they can be more competitive applicants.
The stress on students to improve their college application is increasing each year as colleges receive more applicants and their acceptance rate go down.
This has led students to go out of their way to build up their resumes through volunteer work, internships, test scores, Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and numerous extracurricular activities.
“I think among students, there is a sense of pressure or competition,” counselor Caroline Hoj said. “But when I advise students, I always advise that they do what’s best for themselves, not take classes to keep up with their classmates or friends.”
According to Hoj, the stress to get into college has causedstudents to take more rigorous classes. As students take more college-level classes, the pressure to do well becomes a common stress factor.
“Taking AP classes and feeling stressed and overwhelmed every day is not worth it,” Hoj said. “Many students in the past have gotten into great colleges without taking AP classes.”
The pressure on students to build their college resumes can come from a self-imposed standpoint, but from external sources as well.
“This pressure comes from the competitive nature of our colleges (especially in California, i.e the average GPA getting into UCLA is 4.33), our society and families,” counselor Laura Triantafyllos said. “Pressure to get into a ‘good school’ is everywhere, but a ‘good school’ is different for everyone. Students and families go for the big name schools and not necessarily what is the right fit for the student.”
With the pressure that students face throughout high school, not only does it change their course load, but the schools they may choose to attend for the next four years.
“My friends applying to schools like Stanford pressured me to apply to a ‘better school’,” senior Cais Wang said, “but I think I’m comfortable with my choices.”
Wang has applied to mostly California Universities, and one out of state college. He said that his parents pressured him about getting into college, which led to him starting his applications over the summer.