By Aimi Wen
At this point, I am pretty sure that everyone has heard about how stressed us teenagers are today. However, it is a topic that needs to be continuously talked about because our stress levels have not gone down, and that needs to change.
As a junior, I feel the pressure very acutely: have a 4.0 GPA, obtain perfect or near-perfect test scores, have enough extracurriculars, get a summer internship, focus only on one subject. But, as everyone cautions, even if you have all these qualities, there is no guarantee that you will be admitted to your dream college. Single digit acceptance rates have become a permanent fixture, and they are only going to go down every year. Gone are the days when people only needed to apply to just four or five different colleges. Gone are the days when summers were truly free. Gone are the days when we can sleep at least eight hours.
Teens are now more stressed than adults with one survey finding that teenagers rate a 5.8 out of 10 stress scale while adults rate a 5.1 out of 10 (NBC News). Suicides among teenagers are on the rise, making suicides the number two leading cause of death for children from ages 10 to 24. In high school, for grades 9 to 12, for EACH day, there are on average 3,470 suicide attempts (Parent Resource Program). While school stress is not the sole factor in rising stress and suicide levels, it is definitely a major component.
During the summer before my junior year, my brother’s spanish tutor and a friend of my family sat me down and warned me not to overload myself, telling me stories about high-powered students commiting suicide. That was just the beginning. My chemistry teacher would cluck her tongue and shake her head at hearing about how many APs we were taking. My high school counselor would tell everyone to take it slow and to de-stress. My principal brought in a college counselor who advised us on how to control our social media habits in order to to have more time to sleep and study– as if that was the only factor in teen depression.
Wherever we turn, someone is offering us advice about stress in high school. Yet, the conversations always circled around the fact that high school students are stressed and how we should change ourselves to better accommodate this changing world. I will admit that there are things that other students and I could do to lessen our stress levels. I will also admit that a little stress is necessary, but, the bulk of the stress, the one that is like a growing leech on us, should not exist and cannot be mitigated merely by turning off our devices. This is why people bring this topic up again and again. Something in the system needs to change.