Ninth graders recognize premature college anxiety

Prioritizing personal interests

Maia Schifman and Maggie Seidel, Staff Writers

The common desire of many Blake students to receive admission to a top-tier college creates stress that begins much earlier than the college application process. Underclassmen are already focused on the formal college process and preparation for a college resume.

The objective of achieving at the highest levels is certainly not a negative, however, the stress that comes from striving to get there needs to be recognized and properly managed. In order to reduce stress, students could consider building their college resume by first focusing on activities that align with their genuine interests, rather than what they think a particular college wants to see. Finally, Blake does provide counseling services to assist students through this process. For those students experiencing stress in the early years of high school when they think about college applications, by keeping these topics in mind, hopefully, stress can be reduced.

 In order to combat stress, a greater focus on activities that bring joy, natural success, or motivation are useful, instead of focus on simply building a college resume. Nadia Lee ë20 recommends, ìInstead, maybe trying to figure out who you are and what you’re good at [as] an alternative mindset…the once foreign world of college can become a little less unknown and stressful.î

By involving themselves in extracurricular activities in which they have a genuine interest, underclassmen will likely have a more fulfilling experience, they will become more deeply engaged in the activity, and stress will be lessened because they are actually enjoying what they are doing.

Frank Sachs served in Blake’s College Counseling office from 1985-2017 (and as Director from 1994-2017). His well known motto, ìCollege is a match to be made, not a prize to be won’t brings to mind more criteria than simply the ranking of a desired college. The distinction between attending a highly ranked college and choosing a college based upon personal interests can be lost due to the competition factor and the priority of attending the best college for personal reputation sake. But, Sachs reminds students to begin with their own interests and abilities when considering colleges rather than stressfully trying to make themselves appear dramatically different than they are.

In order to assist students, Blake does offer guidance counselors and the ability to schedule one on one meetings with them. The counselors may be able to help students focus their stress in positive ways and maintain the perspective that life will be filled with many adventures and opportunities that will not be impacted by college acceptance. Such services are available beginning freshman year.

It is probably not possible to eliminate all stress from the process even if the suggestions above are followed. Talia Pesky ë22 shared, ìThere is a pressure to get good grades, especially when your peers get good grades, to compete.î All Blake students are proud of the standard of excellence that exists academically, athletically, artistically, and in preparing for life beyond Blake. The inherit stress that comes from striving to achieve at high levels in these areas can be reduced somewhat by utilizing Blake’s resources, focusing on individual curiosities, and using your own criteria not the criteria of a particular college to determine best fit.