Seniors struggle with College Stress

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Stereotypes about the different years in high school are widespread: freshman year is supposedly fun and a little awkward, sophomore year exists to making fun of freshman, junior year is for getting good grades for college, and senior year is for applying to college and relaxing. In some cases, these generalizations are pretty accurate. However, seniors at Mater Dei seem to feel the stress of the first semester is outweighing any possible relaxation.

There are many factors that could potentially contribute to the negative state of mind that many seniors have come to recognize as an ordinary part of their life as the year progresses. The increasing amount of college applicants lowers the overall acceptance rates of colleges resulting in a higher academic performance expectation from the students.

For example, San Diego state used to be considered a backup school. Sergio Ruiz, a 43-year-old father to a Mater Dei senior and former San Diego State Aztec, states, “20 years ago, I got accepted into SDSU with minimal effort in high school and in the application process.” In 2015 the published acceptance rate was just 34%

While colleges applications may seem more important than before, Andrea Puschendorf confirms that applications are very similar to what students’ parents may have filled out. “For example, on the UC application everything is pretty much the same except for now the insight questions in the last few years and they are 350 words each. Years ago, it was just long essay.”

Nonetheless, many face negative effects of trying to manage and uphold the model of an ideal academic student. Among these are sleep deprivation, impending college deadlines, converging assignments from different classes, and balancing academics with clubs or sports.

“Either it’s ‘devote myself to my schoolwork and give up my free time’, or ‘not finish all my work, but enjoy my life’” explains Carson Gorney, a senior involved in the optimist club as well as the DEAP faith formation club. “I kind of want to enjoy my life before I go to college or start work, you know?”

The process of applying to college itself is a major event during students’ final year in high school, often taking hours of essay writing and revisions which cuts down any free time seniors have.

Many parents notice the high levels of stress and are worried that the high expectations hinder their overall growth as a person. as a person. Parents fear that school impedes their ability to self-discover themselves outside of school and that students cannot find an overall balance.

Ruiz, again contributes, “I look at my daughter and she is always stressed and worried that she does not meet the expectations of an expected model student. She fears that even with a great grade point average and a decent SAT, her efforts won’t meet what the colleges are looking for. She spends a lot of time in her room studying and not being a teenager.” Based on his observations, he notices that many students are overworked and are expected to sacrifice their happiness for being a model student.

A current Mater Dei student who is applying to competitive schools such as several universities in California, Jonas Bongalo feels that “the expectations that colleges set for their students is a good way of rewarding me for doing the things that I already love to do. I feel like the stress and ability to balance extracurriculars with school is important, especially since the world we live in is so fast-paced.”

While parents and students may be concerned, Andrea Puschendorf, an academic counselor at Mater Dei, believes that the college application and high competition helps the student grow overall. She explains that, “in the real world at some point in time, you’re going to have times of pressure from work and daily life. Even though it is hard at times, it can help students be better prepared for the real world and getting used to the pressures that come with life.”

While students may understand this replicates the real world, that doesn’t make the stress any less prevalent.

Brandon Moore, the Ambassadors for Christ member, Campus Minister, and executive president of ASB, seems to have a lot on his plate. He said the main cause of his stress is “college applications because I have to write all of them. I only have about two weeks to get my act together, so—I don’t know.”

Either it’s ‘devote myself to my schoolwork and give up my free time’, or ‘not finish all my work, but enjoy my life’ ”

A common theme among seniors that were interviewed was that all of them expressed a certain detachment, a lack of emotion. When senior Josh Narezo was asked to rate the stress he was feeling on a scale of one to ten, with one being ‘not stressed’ and ten being ‘extremely stressed’, he said “About a zero.” After a short pause: “Because I’m already dead” referring to his overworked state many seniors feel. This numb apathy is often expressed with the phrase ‘I’m so done’, a phrase that was used by almost every senior that was interviewed.

Senior stress is certainly not a phenomenon exclusive to Mater Dei. Other local schools attempt to address potential issues in a variety of ways. For example, Bonita Vista, Sweetwater, and Otay Ranch all have designated school psychologists, separate from the counseling department. According to the Psychology Schools website, their role is to “help students process their problems and plan goals and action, and promote positive behaviors.” At Mater Dei, students are offered counseling through the spiritual outreach program, led by the resident chaplain, Father Martin Latiff. However, this service is largely overlooked, and only a small number of students take advantage of it.

At this point, the goal of most seniors is to deal with sleep deprivation and college work, submit their applications, and let their internal engines power through the work. The real question is, how much pressure can an engine face before it breaks down?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Seniors struggle with College Stress

    Showcase

    Internships Help College Acceptances

  • Seniors struggle with College Stress

    News

    Mrs. Kelleher retires after 21 years

  • Seniors struggle with College Stress

    News

    Iz becomes Athletic Director

  • Seniors struggle with College Stress

    News

    Mater Dei Changes Schedule for Next Year

  • Seniors struggle with College Stress

    A & E

    Crusaders Catch “The Last Knock”

  • Seniors struggle with College Stress

    News

    Bye Bye Brunner

  • Seniors struggle with College Stress

    Showcase

    AP exams greet Crusaders

  • Seniors struggle with College Stress

    Showcase

    Crusaders Possibly to NYC for Thanksgiving

  • Seniors struggle with College Stress

    Showcase

    Freshmen Wear Pink to Support Breast Cancer

  • Seniors struggle with College Stress

    News

    Freshmen Showcase Social Changes

Seniors struggle with College Stress