My name is Miquela and I am a junior this year at a charter school for 6-12th graders. It may sound strange, but the task of simply being a high school student has become increasingly difficult as the ages have progressed. We, or at least I, have felt very stressed by the expectations for my future and necessary success. I have felt pressured by many people to excel in everything I do. These people include my parents, teachers and friends. It is expected for me to finish high school with very high grades in order to receive a fantastic scholarship (hopefully full ride!), continue to college where I will hopefully earn my PhD and some type of engineering degree (most likely in something involving the area of aeronautics or electrical), again graduating at the top of the class, next, its planned for me to receive a great, high-paying job, and marry a wonderful husband and have many children for my parents to spoil. It all sounds like a wonderful fairy tale, but in reality this is a million times harder to accomplish, then to dream up. This dream is filled with hardships and trials that will be very difficult to accomplish and triumph over. As you can probably imagine, this is all very difficult for me to digest and to try to live the life the people around me want to live. It is hard not to think that this whole dream for my future desperately hinges on something as trivial as the grade I received on my math quiz this past week.
It is easy for me to step back and listen to myself, and I can’t help but feel that I’m complaining. But then I listen even closer and realize that I’m not the only one who is feeling this way. The other kids in my class share similar sentiments. They are already freaking out about ACTs, SATs, AP exams, and finals. Many have part time jobs, and vigorously compete in athletics. Why? It is all for the same reason why I do it. Why I dredge through the week taking AP and honors courses, taking dual credit classes at Central New Mexico Community College and the University of New Mexico, the reason why I cram for tests, and force myself to participate in Karate, Archery and Civil Air Patrol. It is to stuff our resumes with as much college-attracting stuff as we can. We must succeed. It is not an option for us.
After realizing that this is something that my peers and I feel on a day to day basis, I decided to research this matter further to see if this pattern of thought was seen in other schools too. I searched “teens feel pressured to succeed” on the internet. What came up really surprised me. According to a poll of 787 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 conducted in 2006 found that 44% of teens say they feel strong pressure to succeed and the pressure is felt more often by girls than boys. Eight in ten students feel that success is important, no matter what the cost and that it does not improve once someone gets out of school and into the workforce. Unfortunately, that pressure to succeed leads to dishonesty and unethical behaviors, such as cheating on tests, plagiarizing, stealing, or behaving violently toward another person. Nearly four in 10 teens who responded to the poll feel that there are times that felt this pressure, although thankfully, the vast majority knew that it was ethically unacceptable and only 185 admitted to succumbing to the pressure and cheating on a test.
This information was very surprising to me and I was surprised to find that when I looked even closer at the other students attending my school, and even speaking to students who attend other schools, you definitely see the same mentality. Many people want to succeed and are tempted to cheat in order to do well. We just have to hope that our sense of ethics is stronger than our need to succeed, or at least helps it along.
(Info taken from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/generation-next/demographic/academic-stress_9-08.html)