Seniors struggle to manage stress during college selection season

By Jayelin Haines

My shoulders sag as I sit through another class presentation about choices for our future. The words spilling out of my teacher’s mouth stick together and filter into my brain as if they were gibberish. In my head, I map out my to-do list for the coming days. With each given task, my imaginary plate fills to the brim, threatening to shatter in my hands. The weight of my responsibilities cause my hands to sweat and tremble. Taking a look around the room, I speed walk for the bathroom pass and speed walk out the room. 

The weight that many items on one’s to-do list can be overwhelming but decisions can push individuals over the limit. Every student taking the college route will have to make the crucial decision of where to continue their education. This is a decision that most students don’t take lightly. Many of the factors that go into the search cause students stress that they may not see coming. 

“A cost that makes sense for the student’s family, location, major choice and what opportunities are given for it at that school, and campus life is a big one too. All of these can cause stress for students. The financial part causes the most,” said Erin Hack, a counselor at BHS. 

A great way to get on top of this is research according to Hack. Students should start their college research process early so their search is already narrowed down by the time they need to make a decision. 

This decision has many sides to it and one of them is the student’s parents. Those whose parents help them out with the cost of university will probably have many conversations about it with them since it’s a big financial commitment. This input is mostly helpful but can be mentally taxing.

“Basically, the pressure that my parents and teachers are putting on it makes it stressful,” said Gwendolyn Heidank, a Senior at BHS.

At times, outside pressures can be the most daunting. Reminding a student to be productive in their search process can be seen as helpful but the constant reminder of the workload and the big decision can cause students to stress more than they have to. Hack has some tactics to try at home to help students stay productive and less stressed. 

“Set boundaries with parents and have a designated time each week where they sit down and talk about updates,” Hack said. 

This method can reduce the heavy stress that comes with the workload and constant reminders. It’s a great way to keep the school work and college application work separate and less overwhelming. Another stressor that seems to overwhelm students is the fear that they don’t have the skills that future professors expect from them. 

“The pressure of what they (professors) want from me and what I should expect going into auditions was what got me stressed because my career was basically riding on them,” said Mia Chahmirzadi. 

This is a normal stressor when it comes to not just auditions in Chahmirzadi’s case but what to expect for college classes and how to pick them. A good way to test that out at BHS is to take a dual credit class. Not all professors are going to be the same, but it’s a way to build up needed skills that they will require students to have. 

“Students in high school are used to reading text and then the teacher explaining it directly afterward. In reality, college professors don’t do that,” said Marnie Heim, a dual credit teacher at BHS “This type of class prepares you for reading the material and then directly applying it.” 

Dual credit classes grant students many skills that prepare them for college courses and how to manage them. Some skills include executive functioning skills, time management and the ability to understand textbooks. These classes also award students class credits to transfer to most colleges (Make sure to double-check with the college admissions offices you are looking at). This will potentially save students hundreds of dollars in tuition. 

College stress can feel daunting and relentless at times but BHS has many counselors open for appointments each day to answer student questions and grant advice. The counseling department also runs late start meetings that inform students on many subjects relating to college and future planning. Another option is the school’s career counselor that can help students find the right field for them before choosing a major. BHS has many tools to help lessen the stress of students’ college searches; students just have to have the fortitude to use them.

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