An Open Letter on Stress and Academics
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o-STRESSEDIn light of the recent tragedy involving a Palo Alto High School student, we would like to express our condolences and prayers to the family, friends, and all those affected by the sudden loss in their lives. As an education company that works closely with the students and youth throughout the Palo Alto Community, we feel compelled not only to share our grief, but also to share our thoughts and concerns surrounding our children.

There are many reasons that lead to suicidal tendencies, and not least among them involve some form of stress. One of the reasons why companies like ours exist, is that parents often reach out to us to help guide and assist their child to stay competitive in their schooling – but what they usually do not account for are the pressures and stress that are associated with that level of competition.

The National Institutes of Health found that 30 percent of students were at risk of suicide.

A typical “competitive” high school student starts their school day at 8:00 A.M. and ends at 3:30PM; followed by some type of after-school activity (club or sport), and another 3-4 hours on homework. In addition to this rigorous schedule, students attempt to prepare for national tests, balance their social lives, excel in extracurricular activities and, in some cases, hold down a job. Let’s not forget: the ever-present pressure from their parents, peers, and teachers. This is a fairly common experience that many students can relate to – so, you can imagine the number of families that come to us distraught, unhappy, and frustrated with the results of their well-intentioned, but unsuccessful efforts.

At the end of the day, sure: we can promise better grades and better results; yes: we can help them become competitive amongst their peers; but there is no amount of time or money spent that can help them more than just a simple, mutual understanding between parents and their children.

“Less than 50% of the most stressed-out female students believed their parents and guardians didn’t notice the mental and physical cracks forming.”

Our college admissions consultants deal with much more than academics; they approach every student in a holistic way that always put their well-being before anything else.  There have been many instances where our students have broken down in tears from the sheer pressure of school and family. They express that they are unhappy with what they are studying and feel helpless so we take note and meet with both the parent and the student to discuss issues beyond just academics. We help them to communicate and set realistic expectations for one another. And, to no surprise, once the parents and students feel happier and less stressed, their grades get better and they feel much more passionate about learning.

“For both females and males between the ages of 13 and 17, school stood as their primary conduit of super stress”

Yes, academics and grades are important but we want all of our parents and students to know that we value your happiness more. Communicate with one another, talk to your kids, and know when to ask for help. We need to promote a community where it is acceptable to ask for help, and more importantly, that it is not the end of the world when you don’t score an A in a class.

Remember Help is Available
If you know of anyone who is feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal please call 1-800-784-2433 to speak with a crisis counselor. People in Santa Clara County can also call 1-855-278-4204.

Here are links to the Health Services page, the Counseling Services page, and a list of local mental health resources.