The debilitating pressure to overachieve

The debilitating pressure to overachieve


Lillian Campbell, Ads Editor

We live in an age where there is constant pressure to overachieve and be the best, especially in college. Adolescents who plan to go to college deal with an overwhelming amount of pressure that can lead to mental health issues.

According to Pew Research, there are many pressures that teens face like school, work, and social pressures. However, academics are at the top of the list with 61% of teens saying they face extreme pressure to get good grades.

The pressure surrounding grades and academics causes a surplus of stress for the average teen. Teens feel that they have to achieve “A” grades which results in a massive amount of stress. However, this is not the only stressor of school.

Pew Research informs roughly one out of five teens feel pressured to be involved in extracurriculars and to perform well in their sports.

On top of grades, teens feel they need to be involved in so many activities like sports and clubs and feel stressed about doing well in their activities. Stress surrounding grades and extracurriculars can be tied to one common factor.

In Pew Research it states a majority of the pressure teens face with grades and extracurriculars is linked to their goals after graduation. An average of 59% of teens plan to go to college after graduation, and college can put a lot of pressure on teens.

A majority of teens want to go to college. Wanting to go to college means teens may feel pressured to overachieve and accomplish a lot in high school to get into a good college to have a good future.

Harvard reveals that the world right now has become very competitive which has caused the college process to bring great pressure on students and parents. A majority of the pressure surrounding the college is based on costs, access, and opportunities.

Many teens need scholarships to attend college which creates even more stress. Without scholarships, many can not afford college, which means that teens can feel stressed and need to overachieve for competitive scholarships. On top of that, they feel they need to be very competitive in colleges.

Harvard sheds light on the fact that there is a debilitating pressure in academia that is causing a huge public health crisis. Studies have shown that rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in teens (especially those with higher incomes) are linked to achievement pressure.

The pressure to overachieve for college is directly linked to the need to pay for college. Students are looking at well-known colleges (like Yale and Harvard) which are super overpriced because of the legacy these schools have, regardless of how they teach the students. Teens feel that these colleges are the only way to get a good job and want the bragging rights associated with these prestigious colleges.

Richard Weissbourd, a developmental psychologist, said in a Harvard article, “Parents or students have this perception that there are 20 or 30 great colleges in this country, we’re going to have really stressed-out kids who are anxious about getting in. And many will end up feeling ashamed because they don’t,” 

Teens feel this pressure to overachieve to get into high-end colleges and then feel embarrassed when they don’t get in. This pressure has been poisoning high schools.

Weissbourd says in a Harvard article, “You just need to spend some time in a high school where this is going on, and you can see how wound up kids are about college and where they’re going to get in.” 

This pressure to overachieve in college is causing so many issues for teens including mental and physical issues. The pressure to get into a top school with large scholarships is taking over teens’ minds. Even though there are plenty of good and affordable colleges, teens feel pressured into doing better.