School stress persists, but students persevere*


Erin Doherty, Co-Editor-In-Chief

In the spirit of Halloween, here’s a real-life horror story. Hold on tight, grab a blanket, and prepare to scream, it’s about to get scary.

Imagine that you wake up on that big day. You know the one: The day you have marked on your calendar since junior year. It’s the day when you finally get news on your acceptance or rejection from a college, the day of your big interview for your dream job, or simply the day you finally finalize a plan for after high school. By the end of the day, you’ve received a rejection letter from your dream school, due to the influx of “quality applicants.” That job you applied to for after high school? They rejected your application. And the plan that you made simply won’t work due to financial reasons.

This horror story will soon become the unfortunate reality for some of our seniors in the next couple of months. I’m here to tell you, though, that this is hardly horrific.

I am no Sandy Bean or Patrice Arrington, but I am a senior who has seen her share of tears the last couple of months due to stress. Through the strain of this process, one phrase has stuck with me: It will all work out. I have heard this from grandparents, neighbors, teachers, parents, and siblings. Even the crazy lady down the street told me this. And although I admit that I am as stressed as the next person, I have realized that this phrase, however trite it may seem, is worth keeping in the back of your mind.  

High school today is a rush of standardized tests, grades, interviews, and competition. Freshman, sophomore and junior year, we take the PSAT. We’re told it’s an important preview for how we are going to do on the real SAT. By junior and senior year, we take the big, scary SAT or ACT to ensure that we have the best future possible. Teachers, parents, and counselors harp on the importance of these tests. College admission and even job qualification today has become increasingly more dependent on standardized tests. This dependency is so prevalent today that Forbes Magazine published an article stating, “Today, colleges are relying on standardized test scores when making admissions decisions to a far larger degree than they have in years.”

Well, that means that three hours and 45 minutes can determine where you go to college. In those 225 minutes on an early Saturday morning, a lot can go wrong. You could wake up sick. Your calculator could break. Maybe you weren’t able to afford a tutor, making a so-called “standardized” test completely unequal.

Regardless of the potential problems, the score that you receive can be a pretty big determining factor in your short-term future. Yes, these tests can determine your chances of getting into a selective college or a higher paying job, but your test score doesn’t define you – or the trajectory of your life.

The work ethic, special talents, and abilities that you have picked up during high school are far more important than a couple of numbers displayed on a pretty poorly designed website (yes, ACT, I’m talking to you). So, while these numbers can unfortunately have an effect on where you go to college or your next career move, it is what you do at these places that makes the biggest difference on your future. In fact, colleges have found that there is “virtually no difference in the academic performance” of students who submit test scores compared to those who don’t, according to a study done by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.  

To put it in perspective, we seniors have a minimum of 62 years left of our lives; it may be a lot more if life expectancy increases, as some experts predict. We have lived a measly 25 percent – or less – of the average life expectancy. So while the decisions that seniors are making around this time seem to be pretty big, just remember, we’ve still got a heck of a lot of time to figure out our life after high school.  

So take a breath and maybe go trick-or-treating this weekend. Completely forget about that early application deadline. Well, maybe not completely, but just remember, for the sake and the nerves of the rest of the school, R-E-L-A-X. •