The Pressures of An Upperclassman by Lauren Kelly
03/06/2018 02:13PM ● Published by Nancy Babin
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The Pressures of an Upperclassman
Honestly, there’s a whole lot of pressure that comes with high school. While adults go on about high school being the “best time of their lives,” today’s high schoolers are becoming extremely overwhelmed with stress. Sadly, this stress originates from several factors that are often very common among the majority of the high school population, particularly with upperclassmen. For juniors and seniors, there is a tremendous addition of pressure, as we are trying to decide what colleges to apply for, and attempting to achieve the guidelines necessary to even have a chance at getting in. Those who aspire to have high GPAs find themselves taking several AP or AICE classes in order to increase their chances of getting into the school they prefer. Speaking as someone who is in this situation, these courses often demand a large amount of work in and out of the classroom. Additionally, I, along with several friends, involve ourselves in multiple clubs and sports in order to bulk up our resumes. These organizations often take time that could be used for finishing homework and projects, especially those that require a certain number of volunteer hours to be completed per semester. On top of this, many juniors and seniors work jobs after school as well, which definitely has the potential to take even more time from the day. Therefore, the combination of workloads often leaves us students having to stay up late on many nights, just to finish everything before the next day. It’s constant for a lot of us.
There is indeed a lot of work and pressure that goes into being an upperclassman today. It’s more difficult now to balance everything than it was twenty or even ten years ago. Colleges have become a whole lot more competitive in their admissions. Nowadays, it feels like a student has to give up their right arm just to have even a chance at getting into their dream college, and the pressure seems to be multiplied tenfold during the last two years of high school. For example, this year a lot of my senior friends were applying to go to UF. Several of them had high GPAs, high ACT and SAT scores, and were involved in many clubs, such as National Honor Society. However, an email was sent out to everyone, explaining that there was a record-breaking number of applicants this year. The message explained that this meant many people who would be qualified for acceptance under normal circumstances would have to be turned down, simply because of the sheer number of people who applied. This made a lot of my friends worry for their chances, even when they had fulfilled every requirement necessary. As someone who is currently aiming to go to UF, this made me quite nervous as well for my own chances next year.
Additionally, there are also a lot of social aspects to think about as an upperclassman too. A lot of times, people already know that at least a few of their friendships just aren’t going to last past high school. At this point, we’re a bit more grown up now, and so we attempt to think realistically about these things. But that still doesn’t stop us from making the best out of our friendships while we’ve got them. It’s all about living in the moment, and not worrying too much about the future of a friendship, when it comes down to it. Even so, it is still sad to think about parting ways with friends eventually. Many of them I’ve known for several years, or even practically grew up with, and so it is difficult to think about separating from the people I’ve grown accustomed to seeing every day. Of course, there is bound to be at least a few that will last beyond high school. I know there are people I will keep in touch with once we go our separate ways. But it’s still a bit difficult to think about sometimes, and so we stay content with thinking about what we have in front of us right now, and making the absolute most out of it while we can.
However, there is also a sense of bittersweetness that can be felt in these final two years as well. One moment you’re just a kid, looking up at all those big upperclassmen, and thinking “That’s a long way away, I’ve got time,” and the next moment, you ARE that big upperclassman, and all the deadlines are staring you in the face. It’s an odd feeling, to realize how much time has passed in the blink of an eye. That being said, time really does fly away in high school. Freshman year didn’t seem that long ago to me. But now we’re all more grown up, with life choices to make and opportunities to seize, and it’s all as daunting as it is exciting. Sure, there’s a lot of pressure that goes into it all. For the moment, we have to worry about grades, ACT/SAT scores, clubs, and other factors that will help us get into our dream college. However, seeing the end of the tunnel, and knowing that college is almost there, is always a huge push factor, for not only myself, but for many other high schoolers my age. For me personally, it serves as a reminder of how much progress I have made so far, and how much more I need to finish my high school career on a strong note. Although it does have its ups and downs, the final years of high school only make me more embracing of the idea of going to college, and beginning the next chapter of my life.