Our environments can have a powerful impact on how we view things, especially in how we view the things about ourselves. Because adolescents spent a lot of time in school, their teachers, their classmates, and the content that they learn can influence how they interpret information. This also includes mental health: conversations with peers and the ways that teachers talk about their expectations on students can have subtle, but lasting effects.
One of the greatest causes of stress in adolescents is feeling like that they have to do well in school. A significant contributor to this, and what determines a good portion of grades, are tests. This also includes larger tests like AP exams and standardized tests like the ACTs and SATs.
More often than not, we feel like we’re alone throughout middle and high school. It’s a weird feeling – we’re in the same building with all of our peers for hours five days out of the week, and social media can have us feeling connected and lonely at the same time.
About half a year ago, I had started an application to my dream school, I knew the chances were slim but I was determined to set that aside and try my best. I went to almost every Zoom webinar and was encouraged by my friends, family, former teachers coaches, and even staff at this school. I worked on it for 8 months and when the deadline came around, I started counting the days until the decision. Then I was counting the hours. Then I was counting the minutes.
A lot of the times, it feels like people who speak for adolescents and how and why they feel the way they do…aren’t adolescents. While some of this makes sense – therapists and mental health experts for example have the background to explain why adolescents may experience the things they do – it can get frustrating seeing news stories and reports talking about what adolescents are going through without actually talking to them.
Everyone has faced tough, personal decisions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes schools and universities, like the small, private university I attend. Many schools, like mine, are under financial strain, and have decided to risk reopening so that they don’t have to close their doors for good.