By the time a teenager turns 16 he or she may feel obligated to become very active in school, which means joining clubs, school sports or being involved in the music department. They are expected to keep their grades as high as possible. Parents practically shove them out the door to apply for a job. And to top it all off, they are required to give back to the community so they have something extra to bring to the table when it comes time for college applications.

It seems so unrealistic for one person to handle all of this on his or her own for four years, but sadly, it is quite the reality for the majority of high school students. A great percentage of my classmates have a job while tending to many other commitments such as sports, clubs, music or schoolwork. Where does this pressure come from? Parents? Teachers? School counselors? Or the students themselves?

All of these people seem to play a role in the decisions teens make during high school. Of course a teenager wants to make their parents proud and get a job, impress their teachers and receive excellent grades, astonish counselors and participate in sports or clubs. But above all, many teenagers want to impress themselves.

"The pressure that is put on a high school student to excel is absolutely insurmountable," said Frontier High School senior Bradley Huff. "I can honestly say that the majority of the pressure in my life comes from myself. I am very hard on myself when it comes to school and sports. I can't say for sure where this 'extreme critiquing' comes from, but I know many other students are feeling what I am feeling: stressed and overwhelmed."

But when does the pressure exceed a student's limits? How can a student go to school until 2 p.m., have soccer practice until 5:30, work until 8:30, then have time to study and complete all of his or her homework for the next day? It just seems too much to handle. Most teenagers know that feeling of stress and pressure; it's terrible! But maybe we (as students) should take a step back to evaluate what is really important to us during our high school years. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves if we get an 85 on that physics test instead of a 98, ask for less hours at our job so we can have time to enjoy life.

I believe this reality has been amplified since our parents, teachers and coaches went to school; so they might not fully understand how much things have changed.

Teens need to learn to take control. Don't let the pressure to be a perfect student control your life. It is OK to make a mistake here and there. Remember, you are only young once; do not spend all four years of it behind a textbook or behind a cash register. Learning can happen anywhere, even outside of the classroom. Learning experiences take place every day, you just need to make time and let those lessons happen.


Kiara Catanzaro is a senior at Frontier High School.