In my Personal and Community Education (PACE) class last week, we talked about stress, examining the factors that lead to it as well as how Andover students cope with it. Most of my PACE classmates could relate to the notion of stress, and even those who usually refrain from speaking enthusiastically engaged in the conversation. As the intense discussion continued, our teacher asked us what aspects of our lives caused us the most stress. All of us came to the consensus that most students stress out over grades and extracurriculars because those factors significantly impact college decisions.
Many students at Andover see college as their final destination. We cannot help but feel pressured to enroll in a prestigious college. Doing so seems like the next step after matriculating at Andover, one of the top boarding schools in the United States. But why should college be the center of our lives? Why do we prioritize college over sleep, our health, and even our relationships with others?
I acknowledge that college frequently dominates my thoughts. Even students outside of Andover find it difficult to completely disregard thinking about college in high school. But at the end of the day, we shouldn’t let the pressures of getting into an Ivy League school take precedence over the experiences that we can acquire only while at Andover. We disregard the opportunities we are given here because we are blinded by how much we think our current actions will influence college admission decisions. This fixed mindset hinders Andover students from not only taking care of their health and developing meaningful relationships, but also from challenging their own abilities by taking difficult courses since they fear receiving mediocre grades.
So, go out. Take a break once in awhile. Focus more on what you can learn while still at Andover than what colleges your time at Andover can get you into. Instead of crying over what you got on your last test and worrying about not receiving an acceptance letter from your dream college, reflect upon what went wrong and think of ways to improve on your next assignment. Then, take some time off from schoolwork to refresh your mind and find an outlet for your stress. Spend a Saturday without thinking about major assignments, homework, or even just school in general. Even spending a few hours doing something you love can relieve stress. This will help give you a positive attitude, and ultimately you’ll be able to fully benefit from the opportunities available at Andover.