Natalie Pursche Teen Speak

Let’s put an end to the mess of high school stress

Natalie Pursche Teen SpeakAs a junior in high school, I can confidently say that the high school environment imposes too much stress on students.

With the constant competition of college acceptance lingering in the air, the hallways are filled with anxiety about the future.

Like many students, I am always stressed out – constantly struggling to balance my endless list of responsibilities while maintaining a healthy mindset. Over the course of my high school career, it has become increasingly harder to stay happy.

Many people are quick to blame students for taking on too many responsibilities, juggling school work, part-time jobs and extracurricular activities. But in my high school, I have always felt pressure from school administrators to overwork in hopes of attending a four-year college.

Even when I have time to take a break from school, I can’t stop thinking that somehow I should be using this time to be more productive – studying for the SATs or finishing that math homework due in a week.

Workaholic mindsets like mine are a result of the competitive environment high school administrators inflict on students to achieve higher college acceptance rates. This pushes students to bite off more than they can chew in order to obtain that perfect application profile. Every class and extracurricular activity we sign up for seems to be a strategic move that will make our college applications more desirable. Because of this, we feel like we have to be on the verge of a mental breakdown all of the time to be on the right track for college.

This competition between peers is unhealthy and is directly linked to mental illness. Since when have college acceptance rates and SAT scores become more important to high school administrators than the mental health of students?

Administrators need to focus less on their overall image and more on student mental health. If they put less stress on students, maybe we would perform even better. Calmer environments create happier students, and happier students create higher-achieving schools.

Natalie Pursche is a Junior at Northgate and a regular contributor to the Pioneer.  Send comments to