Students feel pressure to attend prestigious universities

By Kacey Hsu, Staff–

It’s the time of year where seniors in high school begin to anticipate their college acceptance letters, and from there decide where they want to spend the next four or more years of their lives.

Students, not limited to seniors, often feel pressured to go to “good” schools, whether it be from their family, community or social group, while to themselves they’re actually feeling unprepared to attend a highly competitive school. Students experience high pressure to attend a competitive and well known college, when that may not be what they actually what.

But should schools really be categorized as “good” and “bad”?

Davis High Counselor Courtney Tessler believes that there is no such thing as a good college or a bad college, schools should only be seen as a variety in a range of different choices for school. Tessler recognizes that students often have the misconception that taking certain classes will help them exceed, when really, their decisions have the potential to affect them negatively.

“For students who are aiming for a highly selective college, their goal is to set it up to be competitive for that college,” Tessler said. “If you’re selecting classes in high school just to get into a college, you’re not being true to yourself and have no way of knowing what you’re interested in.”

Tessler sees that picking classes is the first step, and when a student goes to apply for colleges and is asked the question “What are you passionate about?”, the student has no real answer and it works against them.

Tessler has noticed the pressure to aim for colleges with bigger names comes mostly from peers, and that students often have false hopes.

”I think [aiming for a highly competitive college] is a false thing to go after, and to have the idea that if you go to a prestigious college, you will be more successful than anyone else. That’s not how life works,” Tessler said.

Senior Linda Li is one who struggles with pressure in attending a “good” school and has applied to schools all across the board. She is looking for a college where she sees herself fitting in well that suits her style and ambitions.

“I don’t believe in “bad” schools, like rankings are very arbitrary and are usually based on an already established system, and there isn’t any way you can rank an entire school,” Li said. “I think schools are divided into “good” and “bad” mainly because it’s an old mindset and people have trouble changing their opinions.”

Although attending a “good” school is not Li’s mindset, she still feels pressure to attend a highly competitive school. Like Tessler, Li agrees that the pressure comes from peers.

“I definitely feel pressure to attend a highly competitive school and a lot of that pressure comes from myself and feeling like I have to live up to expectations of family, friends, teachers, classmates, etc., which is probably one of the hardest things I struggle with on a daily basis,” Li said.

Senior Marianne Simpson is more focused on searching for a college that best suits her interests. She hopes to attend a large school with a lot of school spirit, and is well rounded academically and socially.

“I want to be at a fun school that goes to football games but is also academically challenging, but not so much to where it takes away from the college experience,” Simpson said.

Simpson, along with Li and dozens of their peers, feels pressured to attend a highly competitive school. For her, pressure comes from her peers and also from family members and siblings who attended prestigious schools. “Everyone at DHS has this mentality that if you don’t get into an Ivy or Stanford or something, that means you’re not good enough, so that’s really stressful,” Simpson said.

Li and Simpson both advise to ignore what other people are saying and find a school that incorporates what you want and what you think is the best fit for you.

“People should go to a place that really suits them and somewhere they actually want to spend the next four years of their lives. There’s no point in going to Stanford if it’s going to make you miserable,” Li said.

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