By Guest Blogger Shannon Overby

As a teacher of high school students, I see students who are constantly stressed about being admitted to college. 

High school now a days can be extremely difficult. Student stress appears mostly junior and senior year of high school, which makes sense, as this is when those students are applying to college. This is ultimately the biggest decision he or she has ever made. 

Most honors students take anywhere from two to seven advanced placement classes. This course load can be quite an undertaking for a student, especially when involved in sports or clubs.

This year, there has been an influx of students who are experiencing panic attacks. Anxiety is on the rise for many of the counseling offices in the area.

Unfortunately, there’s this mentality that a student has to be a part of clubs, extra curricular activities, sports, and still have a social life. The pressure to get into a great college, to be successful, to be as good as your peers is immense. It becomes more competitive each year. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s acceptance rate is 21.9 percent according to its website. According to US News & World Report, North Carolina State University’s acceptance rate is 41.8 percent. In the early 2000s, students were not able to take Advanced Placement classes until junior or senior year. However, students can take these classes as early as ninth grade in Forsyth County. Fourteen-year-olds can walk into their first day of high school taking a class that is meant to simulate a college course.

Other kids see [kids taking AP classes] and it just becomes very competitive. I think there needs to be a tipping point at some time where we say ‘this is enough,’ but that hasn’t come yet, and I don’t know how much farther it’s going to go. 

Students hear that if you want to go to a really competitive school, you have to take several AP classes in junior and senior year. They misconstrue this as “I have to take these classes to get into a college.”

Schools like University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and North Carolina State traditionally accept students with an ACT score of 30 or a SAT score of 1347, and students usually have taken six to seven Advanced Placement classes in their high school careers.

There is a huge difference in the acceptance process of a school such as Chapel Hill versus UNCG, but the difference between the level of education and opportunities they are going to get, and the preparation they are going to get for their future, is very little.

College admissions officers advise students struggling with the stress of getting into college to focus on subjects that they enjoy most. Challenge yourself in the subject you most enjoy or excel in, but be cognizant of your academic ability.

The most important thing is that a student is well-rounded, but not overexerted. It’s important to see that a student is involved, but actively involved and doing well. Admissions officers expressed involvement in a few activities or clubs is good. They really want to see a student that is well rounded and that has challenged themselves academically, but has also done well academically.

Counselors and teachers encourage students to look at a vast array of schools and apply to many.

The mindset of a student is important, too. Students typically have a particular school they want to go to because they have friends who attend, they might be a legacy or they have been a fan of the school’s athletics’ team.

Currently, there are 76 million students enrolled in undergraduate courses, according to the US Census. For those students who want to attend college, the opportunity is available.

The education is more about who you are than what school it is. You are going to have great opportunities everywhere. It’s what you take advantage of when you get there.

I would also encourage parents and students to look into the NC Promise programs where at select North Carolina colleges tuition is only $500 a semester. In addition, Forsyth County just started a program that is offering free tuition to Forsyth Tech for students in need. 

For more advice and blogs about high school, visit the TMoM “High School and Beyond” category HERE

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