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Opinion |  Teens are struggling, and it’s not just a lockdown

Other research supports these findings. In a nationally representative study conducted by NBC News and Challenge Success, a non-profit organization affiliated with Stanford School of Education, researchers studied more than 10,000 high school students in fall 2020 Comparing the experience of these students to around 65,000 teens surveyed between 2018 and February 2020, these researchers also found that many students reported feeling more stressed about school in the fall of 2020 than before. pandemic. One of the main causes of their stress: the pressure to be carried out.

Almost half of all students said the pressure to do well in school had increased since 2019, and more than half said their school-related stress had increased overall. Grades, workload, time management, lack of sleep, and fears in college were the most frequently cited sources of stress. These results have been maintained in socio-economically diverse schools. According to Denise Pope, founder of Challenge Success, students were more likely to report being stressed by family finances, but the top stressors were still grades, assessments, and college.

“My school gives too much work,” wrote a grade 10 student in this study, “even though times are tough for everyone. At first it was just a break from school, but now I just feel stress, anxiety and pain.

Parents seem to play an important role in this phenomenon. Fifty-seven percent of students said their parents’ expectations for their performance remained the same during the pandemic, while 34% said their expectations had increased. The stereotype of the adolescent removed from parental influence does not appear to apply to these students, who report feeling more stressed about family pressure than peer pressure.

When Dr Pope asks parents to define success, they inevitably say that they want their children to be happy and healthy, to have loving relationships, and to give back to society. But when she asks kids how they define success, many describe a narrow path: getting good grades, going to college, and getting a high paying job.

Dr Pope believes the gap is in part due to the way parents praise their children. Many parents reward their children for doing well, which sends a signal to children that their parents’ approval and love depends on what they accomplish. So inevitably, if they believe they are not meeting their parents’ expectations, their sense of worth and well-being suffers.

Stronger cultural forces also push students to define success narrowly. As inequality grows and two major recessions in the past decade have left millions of people out of work, many students may feel pressured to climb the ladder to ensure their economic security as adults. College admissions to top-tier schools have become more selective over the same period, leaving students to compete harder for fewer places – only to receive an education that will likely leave them or their parents in debt. for many years.

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