College, Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It

Doug Notaris, Reporter

The first semester of senior year has been torturous and gruesome. Is this the hardest, most stressful year of high school? Everywhere a high school senior goes, college looms. Anywhere from eating dinner to going on vacation, students always think about college, will they get into college and how they plan on paying for college.

The Princeton Review’s 2012 “College Hopes & Worries Survey” finds 71 percent of college applicants and their parents gauged their stress levels as “high” or “very high”—a 2 percent increase from 2011, and up 15 percent from the first year of the survey in 2003.

The emotion regarding college is obviously well known. Students try managing ridiculous schedules due to the competitiveness of college admissions. There are millions of stories about stressed out kids who race from AP classes to sports practice to SAT tutors.

Unfortunately, adding to this craziness is money. In this year’s “College Hopes and Worries Survey,” 75 percent of families say that the economy has affected their child’s decision about applying to or attending college. To get a degree, 86 percent of parents and families believe that financial aid will be necessary. In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reported that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the 2011–2012 academic year averaged $21,447. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $42,224.

Because the college admissions process is so unbelievably stressful, why do students put themselves through it? The answer is because of their parents. Teenagers are being raised to please adults and are held to impossible standards. They are loaded down with AP classes, expected to participate in numerous extracurricular activities, demonstrate leadership, achieve high SAT and or ACT scores, and have some sort of “passion.” This is simply ridiculous. Students operate on little to no sleep to hopefully get into their top-choice schools, and even this is definitely not a guarantee.

The pressure to get into and pay for college is increasing year after year. Kids all around the country are “killing” themselves on a daily basis to hopefully one day get into their “dream school.” This competition is forcing kids to grow up way too fast and miss out on their short-lived childhood.