Is Your Extra Stress For College Worth It?

Sabreen Hussain, Journalism

With college application deadlines and due dates just around the corner, many senior highschool students are panicking. Stressing over essays, scholarships, acceptance into their dream school, and if the transcript reflects their achievements as well as they would like it too. Many have even reached out to counselors and attended college workshops to get help and ask many important questions. Sarah Wernsing, a 6-year college academic advisor, seems to have all the answers, and they may even work in our favor, “I wish parents understood that AP classes, straight A’s, and competitive sports do not equal success for students.”

She explains how a college student’s success isn’t exactly measured by sports or grades in certain classes. For example, AP classes give high school students college credit for the future, but only if they pay an expensive fee to take the test and get above a certain score. The AP curriculum is even rumored to prioritize memorization over subject comprehension. These courses are extremely burdensome, especially to students taking several APs and trying to balance extracurriculars, “Students with gen-ed courses covered go to higher-level major-specific classes — regardless of whether they’re prepared. Students with AP credits miss gen-ed classes designed to teach first-year students how to study between classes and build up to big assignments.” Without these crucial classes that guide students on how to manage their education, many college freshmen are left unable to explore their options and interests when it comes to choosing a major. 

Straight A’s and sports have notoriously been known to look the best on college applications. Wernsing thinks that the pressure to achieve pristine success in both, leaves high school students lethargic by the time they reach college. She also mentions how this can lead to perfectionism and fear of failure, “All of them recognized the value of the first. Yet many had never practiced failure. They had chosen to quit instead of to work to improve, or they continued to fail instead of trying to change habits and bounce back.” This results in overwhelmed students who have to navigate through their first year of college without management and exposition skills. 

Wernsing’s experience over the years has led her to become an instructor at Colorado State University and integrating her awareness into her parenting style, “Academic advising has changed my parenting. Instead of pushing sports, I let my kids choose one activity they like. I don’t ask about grades, but about what they learned. After years in higher education, I believe character, not accomplishments, determines college success.”