Realistic high school expectations: How much is too much?


Bethany Sanderlin

Madison Calise-Drennen working on an assignment in US History. For many students, the pressure to achieve causes a great deal of stress and anxiety.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.” High school students in our society may have heard this statement before. Perhaps it is one their grandpa repeatedly tells them at nearly every family dinner. However, for many of us, this statement could not be any further from the truth. The current generation of high school students faces day-to-day pressures from all sides. According to Adolescent Wellness Academy, one-third of the population of high school students live with only one parent, and one in five teens suffers from at least one diagnosable mental illness. From a young age, many young people experience personal deep issues that interfere with their daily lives, while having to worry about their daily responsibilities and their future. These data demonstrate that unrealistic expectations are placed on many high school students across the country.
In my own experiences, I have found that the push for college has already started by the time students reach about the seventh grade. It’s as if schools are expecting that students should have their lives planned out 10 years in advance when most of us barely have our lives planned out for that day. For many students, their goal is to look ahead at their fun weekend plans or, depending on what they’re going through, just make it through that day. The pressure to conform to one path in life is apparent and engraves its way into students’ minds that the only way to success is through a planned life of college. Is it right to demand students make adult choices while they’re still children?
Secondly, for lots of students, college isn’t the only pressure that is put on them for their future. I’ve heard many students complaining about the sports practices they are forced to participate in, the clubs they are forced to attend, and the responsibilities they are forced to take upon themselves. There are lots of students required to care for their family through babysitting, part-time jobs, and financial expenses. If the only goal of the students is to protect and comfort their loved ones, then how can they be expected to worry about their own academic success rates through scholarships, grades, and extracurriculars.
Lastly, a common argument is that students need to be prepared for adulthood, which lies just around the corner from their favorite fast-food restaurant. Although life skills are very important, why don’t we turn some more of our attention to ones that will be necessary no matter the job? How come we don’t educate students on how to make tax payments or budget grocery lists? Maybe there’s a lot of preparation for life in general that can be done early on, even things as simple as household tasks. If students find that they’re capable of doing simple things like that, then they might have a little bit more motivation to plan their futures.