The Primary Factors That Cause High School Students To Feel Stressed Out


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Sanna Walker, Staff Writer

I polled 70 student responses around three core questions: their top priority, their top concern, and the main reason for their stress. These questions do have some overlap, so I assumed that the answers would be similar. They definitely were. 

Two of the questions were multiple choice (students had a choice to add their own option if they felt it was necessary), and the question about their top concern was completely up to them: students would respond in a short-answer response. 

While some responses were about family health, concern for friends, or financial issues, these answers only made up 5% of all responses. The overwhelming response to these questions had to do with academic pressure.

Students feel as though they might disappoint their parents or that they aren’t doing enough to “maintain top grades.” Almost all responses were centered around success and the assumption that success is getting into a good college, or excelling in every aspect of their lives.

Nina Jonson, an educator with 16 years of experience around teen health (emotional, social, and mental) emphasizes that point, saying “today’s teenagers are under unbelievable pressure to succeed, achieve, and excel in all areas of life. Young people, whether through pressure from their families, school, peers or internally, must be the star athlete, artist or activist, an incredible student, a perfect physical specimen, and a popular and sought-after friend. Worth can be measured in the score on a test, the stats on the board, the numbers on a scale, or the followers on the ‘gram.”’

In a privileged community like this one, happiness is usually equated to money at an early age. Children feel as though in order to “succeed” they need to be able to land a high-paying job that affords them the same life they’ve been given by their parents. This is especially true now, and college attendance rates have increased dramatically. It is now harder than ever to be accepted into the college of your choice. 

In Minnetonka’s hyper competitive community, students are constantly comparing themselves to their peers through scores and grades. This greatly affects students by building a destructive environment that stresses grades and credentials rather than learned material and experiences. Ultimately, this leads leads students to form long-term habits that barely support self-ambition instead of collaboration and partnerships.

As we are progressing further into the school year, academic pressures are rising. Jonson insisted on the importance of finding a balanced lifestyle by saying “these stressed out young people have [to learn] techniques to cope with their stress and healthy outlets to find balance in their lives.” 

Make sure to put your stress in perspective; don’t let it dominate your life. Find time to do something that makes you genuinely happy; this can create some of the healthy balance that is critical to your long term happiness.