Students feel the pressure of preparing for college


Azanae Barrow

Guidance counselor Larry Hensley helps junior Sydney Shupe plan classes for her senior year. Shupe chose a variety of AP and honors classes to help her prepare for college.

The class of 2017 is approaching their last year in high school, and that means more stressful college visits and classes that make them want to rip their hair out.

The juniors started to schedule classes for their senior year, but, according to some students, the pressure to take the most advanced classes is higher than ever.

Junior Claire Amato thinks that the pressure is definitely stressed senior year, and that taking more advanced classes impacts what college you go to.

“I always thought having a relaxed senior year would be nice, but after talking to my counselor, I figured taking harder classes [would] end up looking better,” Amato said.

Nowadays, colleges look for students who went the extra mile and took an extra science or AP class instead of meeting the minimum number of classes required to graduate. According to Collegexpress, a website that provides aide with choosing the right college said, “Academically successful students should take at least five core courses every semester. Include AP, IB, and Honors classes if you believe you can get good grades in them.”

When picking his classes, junior Edward Benner focused on his capability to perform well rather than choosing a hard class just to impress a college. “There is pressure to a degree but personally, I chose the classes to show my abilities as a student and to show colleges what I am capable of,” Benner said.

While picking your classes for next year, keep in mind that you are always being looked at even after you submit college applications. Harvey Mudd College in California said, “The hardest part is over, but it’s still important to finish the year strong because your second semester senior year grades really do matter. Though you’ve already been admitted (and you’ve committed), institutions care that you are able to maintain the quality of your work.”

If you do decide to take more advanced classes than you can handle in order to be a more well-rounded student, you might find your stress level higher than usual. Cal Newport, a blog that helps to uncover different success strategies said, “Many students believe that taking a punishing course load will somehow indicate a higher ability; here’s the reality: it won’t.”

Senior Megan Piercy thought that her senior year was going to be stress-free and easy. “I was completely wrong. Senior year has been the most stressful year of my life. I wish I had been more realistic with myself instead of assuming this year would be relatively easy,” Piercy said.

On the other hand, if you decide to take it easy during your last year, you could be making up for unnecessary lost time.

Senior Cameron Exter regrets not taking more AP and Honors classes during his junior year but he’s stress-free while making up for lost time. “I’m loving every moment of senior year. It’s just the general feeling everyone is in. We’re all so excited to go off to college, but still making the most of our time together,” Exter said.

While students feel pressure from parents, peers, and even their guidance counselors to overextend their academic schedules, they shouldn’t give into it. The only person who should decide what classes you take is you.

“Don’t take more [classes] than you know you can handle, because you have to consider your extracurriculars and how much time in the day you have for academics,” Piercy said.

It may help you get into a great college, but if you’re suffering from severe stress, you’re not helping yourself. It’s important to find a balance between taking classes that will challenge you while getting good grades at the same time.

Remember that senior year is the last year of high school. There will still be work, but you should also make memories with friends and family, and enjoy the last year before going to college. Don’t forget about that aspect of senior year.

Moral of the story: take classes that you enjoy but will benefit you in the long run.

Azanae Barrow is a Community Editor for The Patriot and