Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stressed out in high school

It's articles like this one that make me so glad my high schoolers are home. The anxiety facing today's high schoolers is enormous. Supposedly eleventh grade is the worst.

Amanda Goehring's junior year in high school was, others of her age group would nsist, pretty typical. It began with a horrible band camp. Then she broke up with her boyfriend of two years and had to deal with a backpack-bursting schedule, including in Advanced Placement physics course she did not understand, Japanese National Honor Society, Japan Bowl team, Astronomy Club, Girl Scouts, volunteering at the public library and hosting a foreign exchange student. "I remember being really depressed most of the year," said Goehring, who has since graduated. "I didn't eat and I slept excessively when I wasn't working."

There are more than 3.6 million high school juniors in the United States, about two-thirds of whom plan to go to college. It is that daunting life change, less than two years away, that becomes the focus of their obsession. College preparatory courses, college applications, college-motivated extracurricular activities and college entrance tests such as the SAT or the ACT are the favorite topics of anguished 11th-grade conversations."It seems like each bad grade on a test will change your grade, GPA, what college you go to and your entire life," said Lauren Hunt, a junior at McLean High School.

That sense of confusion is shared by nearly all 11th-graders, even those not going to college, educators say. That's because the students are caught in the hormonal grip of adolescence, contending with physiological and emotional changes that make it a particularly perilous year."They are not good at processing risks," said Denise Clark Pope, a lecturer at Stanford University's education school and the author of "Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic and Miseducated Students."

Now I'm not saying we don't have our stressful days. But what that young lady described is not my eleventh grade daughter's life at all. I don't see a tremendous amount of over all anxiety in her. We are truly enjoying this year. She is keeping up with her work and absolutely loves the online e-zine Regenerate Our Culture that she helped get going. Her future plans aren't certain but we're trusting that God will lead us in that step as He has in throughout this whole homeschool experience. Our desire is to finish strong but not become anxious in what is ahead even if it may not be totally clear yet. I'm not going to let external demands ruin our family life and the remaining years we have with our daughter.

Is this unique to us? Or are others with home schooled high schoolers experiencing the same thing?

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