De-Stressing For Collegebound Students

I recently watched a news segment about ways in which college-bound students can cope with stress. It has been almost a year since my graduation, but based on my studying behaviors and experiences, I can assure you the stress results from thinking too much about academics. I am surprised psychiatrists are telling students to simply practice breathing and talk with parents about their academics – I do agree with them in that they help calm yourself down, BUT students are going to still be stressed no matter what.  The problem lies with academics and the traditional way that college –> success.

Let’s face it. Sometimes, degrees are useless…I applied for an office assistant job on CareerBuilder and saw the free competition report – guess what? There were around 11 MASTERS and 5 DOCTORATE degree applicants. I know you all are going to bring on statements like “Major in STEM-related programs” or “That’s why you don’t choose worthless majors” but think about it from a global perspective — look at the world we live in. You go on the web and you see so many problems – wars, poverty, homelessness, famines and the list goes on. Then, we have politics and big business on the economic side. It seems we have become smarter, but at what expense? The environment is a huge concern, yet look at the situation…we still have research funded to prove that climate change exists. We are looking into exploring Mars and implementing more space programs. What’s the purpose? How does this tie with academics? We believe the following:

Birth –> School –> More School! –> More Schooool! –> College –> Steady job –> Promotions(?) –> Buy a home, car and have a steady income –> Retirement –> Happy Life? –> Death

Can you spot the issue? We are so focused on what a person does and how much money he or she makes. The questions are endless. Why don’t you major in something better? Did you know his cousin is a high-level executive? You see, students are stressed more than ever because of the way we perceive life. We are worried about our future when we do not even prepare for the present. What will my final grade be? Will I fail? Will the admissions committee reject my application? Will I get a job right after college? Now, let me tell you my story.

When I was in high school, I shut myself from everything and focused solely on academics. I was scared of playing sports because I thought I would get hurt – that’s why I hated PE. If I could not understand a question on homework, I would never ask anyone – I would try to figure it out myself. I only got involved in one or two clubs during high school. I was an introvert all during high school and this goes for college, too, up until senior year where I opened up and talked to more people and got a job. Now, after graduation, I still continue to ponder my choices. Was focusing only on classes worth it? What about people like me who did not talk to people and go out on weekends or eat with friends all the time? I believe students should NOT focus on their academics too much…it’s just not worth it…yes, do think about the future. But, let me ask you another question:

Are you ready to face the world after college?

If you worry about which college you will get into and aim for straight A’s, then that will ruin your health early…definitely my case. I worried too much and still worry about finding a steady job. Go to graduate school? Maybe, but that’s a topic for another post. My point is that you need to absolutely think of the future, BUT in the context of preparation for the real world and not because of your degree or grades. College certainly prepared me to carry out calculations and think critically, but certainly not in helping me understand the world. Academics consume our lives. Yes, you can say all our sweat and heart beats were meant to get a great job…I will leave it at that…

I wrote whatever came into my mind so there may be some things I may have forgotten to explain in detail and reasons why I said certain things, but I hope you enjoyed this.

6 thoughts on “De-Stressing For Collegebound Students

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  1. Great post, Aziz! Very important thoughts and eloquently stated views. I’m sorry your high school experience was somewhat painful and lonely (from what I read). It seems to be the case for more people than we’re aware of.
    I agree with you wholeheartedly. People should learn because they are curious and interested in learning – not for the shallow and heart-breaking reason of getting straight As.
    This is such a serious and difficult issue that so many young students face – I saw it all the time when I was teaching 8th Grade. Students would get all stressed out about every subject, and try and do everything, including sports with a sort of manic frenzy, because they were so focused on getting into college with straight As. Very few actually learned anything beyond what they had to study, and very few remembered much of what they learned. It was sad to see. Only a couple of students would raise their hands to ask questions, because many students would roll their eyes if a child wanted to know or clarify something. So, even if students had questions, they were too worried about being called “nerd” or “teacher’s pet.” Of course, my classes were very interactive, and I tried hard to get everyone to say something after we’d studied something, whether it was to ask a question, share an opinion, or make an observation of some sort, so we managed to include almost all students, except for one or two who had almost nothing to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Yes, I was too much of a bookworm in high school…I believed getting the best possible grades were the key to success, but now everything is so different and complex. Also, it reminds me of his Holiness the Dalai Lama’s quotes about humanity’s problems. There’s too much to worry about and students today will only see an increase in their stress throughout their lives if they think college is the most defining moment of their lives. Too much competition and living in an individualistic society make students’ lives even grimmer.

      It is cool that you’re a teacher :). Teachers are definitely underappreciated, too, and so much funding is going to lavish sports stadiums rather than education. Student debts are also rising as well as the income gaps so I hope we can figure out the situation sooner than later before stress leads to severe consequences.

      I agree with you that students learn so little. I forgot so much math and science material because I was concentrating on grades, not the key concepts. I remember classmates who just seemed to text or talk when the teacher was talking. There was so much disconnection within the class. It’s also great that you encouraged participation during class. Most classes I took were silent except for some group work. The best teachers made it fun and it’s great you found a way to make class interactive – I can only think of language classes but I guess it would be awesome to make skits for history classes and making science more visual rather than a bulky textbook. Then, students would actually learn even more…but books still dominate the classroom, unfortunately!😦

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      1. I’m so sorry that students texted and talked during class. The problem with education is that EVERYONE is afraid of being held accountable, and so everything gets reduced to things that can be analyzed numerically. What people don’t remember is that education is holistic, and learning spirals – there’s no neat and tidy way of getting from one level of understanding to another, because we make leaps of understanding. Plus, we do so at our own speed, not all at the same time. I got so sick of it all that after seventeen years and plenty of seniority and great pay (well, great for teachers, that is, not in terms of what an IT professional might get.), I was basically done with it. I felt bad leaving teaching, but I told them I had many reasons, including a philosophical disagreement with the idea of high stakes testing. Of course, I also wanted to recover my creative spirit, and have more time with my daughter, husband and dog.

        Ah yes, skits! Skits were an integral part of many of my classes! I loved them, and the students did, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I like your explanation about education since it is concise and to the point while shedding light on many problems we see today. It reminds me of all the set standards and standardized testing that takes place at certain grade levels up until the most arguably stress-inducing SAT which everyone obsesses about. I never understood their purpose and there are many revisions made to help increase their relevance to test college preparedness, but it still is confusing.

        I like how you used “learning spirals” because it reminds me of the rigorous AP classes versus the regular ones. It feels like a huge leap going from a regular to an advanced course meant for college freshmen and also hurts some students sometimes. I guess it’s good that there are regular and advanced classes since students study and learn differently like you stated. But then again, people take too many AP classes and get stressed out while participating in sports and clubs.

        It is nice hearing your story since you have had many years of experience teaching and observing the trends and situations changing throughout those years. It reminds me of the “blended” and “flipped” classroom styles…seems like they will be the norms eventually. The traditional way has to change. I mean, there could be a new system with no grade levels, rather a customized path for each student to select whatever he or she wants as long as they meet certain general education requirements.

        It must be nice to relax after spending all those years preparing material and working with students! Glad you are exploring your creative side and spending time with family and your dog.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! I wish education was given more attention by the media but it’s all about giving students even more unnecessary stress. 😦 Poor students having to go through all these dire situations…


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