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Intrinsic or Extrinsic Stress in High School


High school is full of stress. Today I sat for nearly two hours to learn about what the Junior year would bring us as far as College Admissions. First of all I am unprepared to sit and listen to anyone for two hours, that was stressful and secondly it made me want to cry. One speaker after another talked about how to keep it from being high stress and then went on about the import of having A’s and B’s and high test scores and I’m sitting there wondering if any high school student ever gets a C or if they’ve gone the way of the dodo bird?

Maybe I’m living in Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average?

I’m told to not worry about ACT prep courses until Junior year but then there’s a prep course offered during the summer session before the Junior year. The kids are supposed to take the ACT in the spring of their Junior year and then again in the fall of their Senior year and no one will be taking the SAT at all because for the class of 2017 it will be a new test and there’s no way to prepare for it. And then again there’s some murmuring about the fact that the head of the College Board was instrumental in creating the Common Core Standards and that the new SAT is being developed to somehow defend the Common Core.

Could one man be that powerful?

Part way through this morning meeting I remembered how to breathe in and out. I remembered that we’d been through this once with Jane already in selecting a high school and there aren’t that many high schools to choose from in our area. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of colleges and universities and all we need to do is be there to help her hit deadlines, study her best and choose wisely.

Jane often feels stressed about school as does every high school kid. The question is where the stress is coming from. Is she putting pressure on herself to do more than she has time for? Is the school putting pressure on her to be perfect (whatever that may be)? Am I putting pressure on her to run faster, calculate better, code cleaner and write more? I hope not.

We’ve got two and a half academic years around here with Jane. The trick as I see it is to provide soft landings when Jane needs a little help, to stay out of her way when she’s hell bent on achieving a goal and to keep the college planning in perspective. She’s coming out of a great school and she’s going to go to a great college not because I know that my kid is headed to a prestige school but because I know that my kid is headed to a school that’s a great fit for who she is and who she wants to become.

The extrinsic pressure? I’m like a valve stem on that one – just doing my best over here to let some of the pressure go.