Academic Stress May Not Appear as “Stress”

A high school sophomore recently shared her thoughts on the challenges of earning an A in her Chemistry course—a grade that she, her peers, parents, and many others view as essential to be “competitive” for college admissions and a reflection of her intelligence.

She realizes that she needs more time than typically allotted in a normal high school course to understand Chemistry concepts, which creates undo pressure to “keep up”. Then, during tests, she’s limited to a single class period to perform, testing her memory more than her understanding. Thus, anxious about securing an A grade, which disrupts her focus, she often makes mistakes, resulting in a lower grade, only compounding her concerns.

When reviewing her test scores, she wonders if the number reflects her understanding. She also fears that, given the lower test score and subsequent grade, her knowledge, ability to learn, and effort might be misinterpreted by her parents and, eventually, by college admissions officers, and consequently being denied admissions.

Yet, because she doesn’t exhibit overt signs of stress, like excessive emotion or frequent absences, and because she doesn’t voice her concerns to her friends, parents, or teachers, she’s perceived as not being “stressed”. However, in my experience such feelings have become commonplace among today’s teenagers, confirming generalities that youth are suffering in their mental health.

Jill Yoshikawa has dedicated her professional life to assisting teenagers and their families in the complicated transition from childhood to adulthood, first as a classroom teacher and now as educational counsel. Contact Jill to schedule an appointment today.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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