The abundance of AP classes, academic competition, and high grades has gotten everyone thinking numerous things: “Am I good enough?” “Will I pass this class?” “Do I look smart if I take this?”
Written by Viswa Kolluru
From being competitive to growing to be hypercompetitive, schools (k-12) saw an average of 20% growth in applications from 2020 to 2022. That doesn’t even cover the college competition growth rate. Colleges have seen an exponential spike in their applications as a result of the pandemic. The number of students applying has doubled since the 1970s, and school sizes have changed only slightly. Thousands of applications have led to thousands of rejections, but what does this all mean for students’ mental health?
The stress and anxiety levels of current high school students is said to be equivalent to a mental patient in an asylum from the 1950s. 45% of students admit to being stressed in school everyday, 83% cite school as a significant producer of the stress, and 61% of teens feel stress over achieving high grades. Students have also reported that on a scale of 1-10, their stress levels fall somewhere at 5.8, which is above the number believed to be healthy and higher than adults’ average reported stress levels, 5.1.
Students (myself included) will end up staying up late trying to finish that one science project that may or may not tank your grade. We take an abundance of AP classes even when we know we can’t handle it just to fit in. If we decide to drop an AP class, we are shunned by our peers. School as we know it has become more about competition, impressing colleges, and becoming valedictorian rather than going to learn and seeing friends.
With that being said, all academic competition isn’t necessarily bad. A healthy dose of it can drive motivation, teach us how to fail, help us perform better under pressure, and overall enhance our skills. It is important to make sure that academic competition doesn’t become an obsession, as per the negative effects of it stated above. Hence it is important for students, us, me, to remember that life isn’t just about getting accepted into the most prestigious college and getting good grades. Take some time for yourself
because you've earned it.