College Stress: Another Perspective

11346577“These kids are under so much pressure. I didn’t want to stress John out.” Mrs. Giles said about her son. I happened to know her son a bit because he attended an SAT class that I taught in Madison. John did not appear stressed out. Mrs. Giles agreed that John wasn’t particularly anxious but she worried that she would make him anxious if she discussed college.

I see the news of the influx of refugees into Europe. I watch a Smithsonian documentary on World War II showing 18 year old boys heading out into war zones. I read A Long Way Gone, the story of an African boy fleeing civil war and escaping the horrors of children soldiers, most recently depicted in Beasts of No Nation. I wonder what those teens would say about our teens.

Having worked with several thousand families over the last fifteen years, I am keenly aware of the self-reported pressure related to college admissions. I have read every article on the “insanity of college season” and the “terrible, horrible, torture” that teens must undergo to gain admission to elite universities

Would any teen refugee get “incredibly stressed” about which colleges to apply to early action?

Would those American boys storming Normandy feel “panicked” about taking the SAT?

Would any of those teens in war torn African nations say things like “I can’t take it any more” in relation to writing supplemental college essays.

Subjective pressure is real. But gaining perspective will go a long way to lowering the intensity.