Tuesday, September 23, 2008

High School Students Feeling Overwhelmed: Not an Unusual Feeling

Today I met a woman whose daughter is in 9th grade in a very academic private high school. Only a few weeks into the school year the daughter is feeling overwhelmed. This is not an unusual feeling for high-achieving students because the pressure today to do well and “beat the competition” is intense.

Yet, as I have written about before, the FLIPPING BURGERS philosophy is somewhat different than the “get the highest grades and highest test scores” philosophy for getting into top colleges.

The FLIPPING BURGERS philosophy says that you should follow your passion in high school. This means trying to arrange a challenging but not overwhelming school schedule so that you have time to follow your passion outside of school.

And the advantage of following your passion outside school is that you will have to pursue activities that are not handed to you on a silver platter (the school’s own activities). Why, for example, join the high school drama club when you can join a local theater group near your home? In this way you will demonstrate initiative to the colleges to which you apply and your experience may be richer for having to learn how to “work” (act) around adults of various ages.

If you are overwhelmed already and this is still September, consider whether you may be able to re-adjust your school schedule so that you have more time to pursue your passion and still take academically challenging (but not overwhelming) courses.

For example, this re-adjustment may mean saving physics until summer school where you can really focus on this subject and, in place of this course during the school year, take a less-strenuous one that will give you more free time after school.

For advice on planning the rest of your high school schedule, you can check out the report THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD DO AND KNOW TO GET AHEAD OF THE GAME OF COLLEGE APPLICATIONS at www.millermosaic.com/page1.php

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Cedarwaxwing said...

As a mother of two teenagers who attend the high school profiled in the book, The Overachievers, I applaud any suggestions that discourage the overachieving culture.

I wish that pre-teens and teenagers today could be kids for a while longer and not have to think about college in middle school.

My daughter, who is not an overachiever, had thousands of pages to read and annotate over the summer (The Bible, Beowulf, The Stranger, and David Copperfield) for her AP English class on top of studying for a retake of the SAT and visiting colleges.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller said...

Thanks for sharing this comment. The problem is that it's hard for one student to step off the merry-go-round either because of such work as these summer assignments or because of the pressure of what other students are doing.

Having suffered through summer reading lists myself that blocked me from reading all the books I wanted to read, I've never understood the need to make students read required books over the summer. And the list that you provided ... oh dear.