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The Academic Pressures of High School Students and How Parents Can Help

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The increasing commonality of a college degree and the decreasing value of the bachelor’s degree has created an epidemic of increased demands on high school students over the past ten years. It seems to be the current belief that in order to have any type of personal success in life one should earn only top grades. Along with achieving academic success, high schoolers are also expected to participate and succeed in extracurricular activities such as sports, musical clubs, academic clubs, and social justice clubs. All of these different aspects are believed to create a well-rounded high school resume. The goal of a well-rounded high school resume is to be admitted to a prestigious university.

Although academic success is important, and all parents should want their children to be participating, contributing, successful members of society, there are times when the pressure of it all becomes too much. Currently, nearly 50 percent of high school students admit to feelings of depression, and roughly 26 percent of students have been diagnosed with depression or an anxiety-related disorder. That is nearly five times the national average. For these suffering students, alternative coping mechanisms are not working and they are being prescribed and relying on anti-anxiety medications to help them navigate their teenage lives. The main concern in relation to these suffering students and their diagnoses is “Can parents help?” or is it something that has become such a part of society that it is inevitable for our students? If you are a parent, here are some concepts that may prove to be beneficial.

Introduce Your Student to Different Ideas of Success

One of the main issues with the current epidemic is that it is only based on one idea of success. Many people feel that the only way to be “successful” is to achieve high academic scores, get into a prestigious university, attend a prestigious graduate school, and move onto a highly regarded professional career and earn a generous salary. Not every student fits inside this box. Many students have different talents and aspirations. Additionally many would find far more happiness pursuing a career outside of the highly regarded corporate or professional world. If you introduce ideas of success in your home that are congruent with your values such as intrinsic happiness, personal growth, or spiritual growth, your student may be more likely to combat the anxieties of high school.

Encourage Your Student to Find Their Own Passions

Students are pushed to participate in the extracurricular activities that will present well on their high school resumes. Often times, although all extracurricular activities are important, the activities that students end up participating are ones they do not enjoy. At the beginning of the school year, encourage your student to try new extracurricular activities and to only choose activities that sound appealing to them. This may help to lighten their loaded schedule and provide them relief from the stresses of school instead of added stress.

Encourage Your Student to Be a Kid

Although high school is a time to be responsible and to start learning the roles of adulthood, students are still in their youth. During this time it is perfectly normal to hang out with friends during times that are not academic or extracurricular related activities and have periods of boredom. In fact, it is healthy for them. Encourage your students to have leisurely time away from the stresses of school and their future and just to enjoy being where they are in life, because all too soon, even bigger stresses will come.

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