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The Panther Press

Recreating Barbie’s monologue for high school students

Illustration by Aarya Chowdhry

Prioritize your mental health, but make sure your high school transcript shows academic rigor. Manage your time, find balance— but your co-curricular activities should show variety. Sleep is important, but you cannot fall behind on your homework. Educate yourself so you can make a difference, but make a difference so you can get into college.

You can work under the weight of a thousand things, but don’t forget who you are. 

Stick to doing things that make you happy. Be authentic. Be yourself. Make friends. Life is all about being surrounded by loved ones, but your future’s so much more important than young love. You’re meant to explore yourself in college, but hey, don’t forget to exploit yourself so you can get into college.  

It is time we talk about what we have been afraid to say. With every year, high school is turning into a list of contradicting chores for which high-schoolers are soon going to have to grow a third arm, and it is high time we understand that the issue does not solely stem from over-achieving high schoolers. 

Yes, I agree that as high school students, we have taken the workload expectation that used to be for college students and owned it as our own, because if we can do in high school what college students do, then aren’t we a step ahead? 

As high school students strive to be a step ahead, more people raise the standards for a high school student everyday, and therefore, setting higher expectations for everybody else. 

However, the issue is bigger than that. The question that really matters is: Why do high school students today feel the burden of going beyond reasonable academic expectations? College.

According to Anne Ivey, founder of the college consulting firm Ivey consulting, in the US News and World Report, there are three “buckets” of qualities that most 4-year colleges look for: “academics, extracurricular activities and personal qualities.” 

According to Quad Education, a member of the National Association of College Admission Counseling, in addition to all of the above, we need to get work experience, do community service, ace the SAT or ACT, and all of that still would not guarantee our acceptance into a college of choice. 

On a casual Thursday morning, when I googled, “What does a high school student need to do in order to get into college?” the response I received was overwhelming. Each source gave me a new task to complete. Now, in order to secure my chances of getting into my dream school, do I strive to achieve all of them? 

Do I need to check every single box on the list? 

When asked what part of the college process was stressful, Miranda Deng, a senior at San Domenico, not only pointed out the stress that accompanies completing the college applications, but also the external factors creating anxiety surrounding this process. 

“Even when I am done with my college applications, I feel stressed,” Deng said. “Because then there are the anxieties of whether I am going to get in or not.”

The problem is not students’ inability to prioritize, it is the contrasting nature of expectations they receive from media, family, colleges and even themselves, and the uncertainty of a future that follows all that effort.

The problem is not students’ inability to prioritize, it is the contrasting nature of expectations they receive from media, family, colleges and even themselves, and the uncertainty of a future that follows all that effort.

— Aarya Chowdhry

Rachel Greenmyer, a San Domenico Boarding Residential Faculty, and a high school graduate of 2013, points out the mental health effects of unrealistic expectations on high school students.

“[In my high school] probably the high achieving kids were seen as … perfect,” Greenmyer said. “[While,] they were probably the ones struggling the most because anyone with that amount of pressure and that amount of things on their plate is obviously compromising sleep.”

As more and more colleges seek well-rounded students with rigorous academics, emotional wellness and a passion to be the next change maker, students are feeling the burden of doing everything, all at once, and thus making the task of simply being a high school student much more difficult than it should be. 

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About the Contributor
Aarya Chowdhry
Aarya Chowdhry, Head Copy Editor
Hello! I am a senior at San Domenico School and a contributor to The Panther Press. I have a passion for learning and researching. I love writing about women's rights and social justice. Other than that, I am a fan of badminton, YAF novels and writing poetry!

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